Postcards:

For all things philosophical.

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d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:13 pm

I have come to a concern as concerns Deleuze and Guatarri’s machinic production in The Anti-Oedipus. On one hand, they do seem to offer it as a way of acting in the world to positive effect: towards freedom. But there is a dark side to it. Given the materialist nature of it (that is of the eliminative kind (it may be that they have mapped out the means by which producer/consumer Capitalism can create an Orwellian police state suitable to it. Capitalism, to its advocate’s credit, does have a relation to Freedom to the extent that while automatons may make excellent producers, what they don’t make are very good consumers. Their about as ascetic as ascetic can be (like Buddhist monks almost (to the extent that all they need is what is necessary to survive: ants in an ant colony. And Capitalism, in order to justify itself, requires excess. Think here, for instance, of the paradox of thrift. Therefore, Capitalism, in order to create the Orwellian police state it will require to sustain itself in the face of its increasing failures, will require a dynamic automaton as compared to the static one described in Orwell’s 1984. It will require a universal compliance similar to that of those who keep voting republican and acting as apologists for Capitalism in America and elsewhere: the distracted ones who have fallen prey to the double-speak.

But in order to explain myself, I will have to reveal a synopsis of a short story I have been running through my head for Philosophy Now called We Know Where You Are. In it, a future Orwellian society is described in which anyone who deviates from the normal flow of production and consumption are subjected to a therapy in which neuroscientists, having discovered the module in the brain common to all non-Capitalist behaviors, the “you”, show the subject a scan of their brain, point out the part of the scan that must be less lit, and give them small shocks until it goes dark.

“You cannot hide it away for later use. You must let it go. We know where you are.”

....as the story finishes with.

What this Capitalist/Orwellian society (or the powers that be in it (recognize, much as D & G do, is that the individual is always a multiplicity of needs, drives, demands, and desires that producer/consumer Capitalism is perfecting the art of exploiting. We can see this, for instance, in the marketing strategies of Walmart who always puts the items on sell at the entrance so that the individual, seeing how cheap they are (a socially programmed response to a socially programmed cue (throws it in the basket only to regret it later as they keep coming across things they actually need or think they do. They basically end up like the drinker who goes into the bar for one beer and ends up shutting the place down. And take note here: behind every marketer is a team (if not an army (of psychologists.

And I would also note here how the main character, the you, is busted while looking at the CO² scrubbers decked about the sea and listening to the slow hum…. The point being the way Capitalism is always approaching us with the argument that no matter what problem it creates, it can, for a fee, find a solution.

But then that was the point that D & G may have been making in The Anti-Oedipus: the very dynamic that is oppressing us (driving us to choose our own oppression (may be the very dynamic that can save us if we use it right.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Aug 14, 2016 6:58 pm

Rhizome 8/14/16 in which I finish off my immersion in Difference and Repetition with some general (journal-like: dear diary (observations:

“The reception of Difference and Repetition in the English speaking world is just as complicated as the immediate French reception of the text. The work itself was not translated until 1994, and it was primarily Deleuze’s work with Guatarri that had attracted, and continues to attract, the most attention. For the most part Difference and Repetition remained in the background, almost as a legitimizing anchor for these more popular works.” -from Joe Hughes’ reader's guide to Difference and Repetition

This, of course, confronts me with an almost overwhelming question:

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Throughout my fixation with the book, common sense (that, BTW, which Deleuze de-priveleges (has nagged at me to just walk away from it and focus on Deleuze’s main claim to fame in America: his work with Guatarri. I mean it has worked for most other American fans. Why not me? Hughes goes on to say:

“It was widely acknowledged as Deleuze’s masterwork and considered the book which any serious Deleuzian would ultimately have to engage with, but more often than not it simply stood as that unknown source which explained everything without ever being explained itself.”

But at what point did I commit to being a “serious Deleuzian”? I’m not even a “serious philosopher”. My lean has always been towards the creative side of it and I prefer to think of myself as writer writing about his experiences with philosophy. I would hardly presume to present a philosophy myself. In fact, I would argue that my main fixation on philosophy is as a supplement to the really good psychedelics I did in the 70’s: those weird twists of understanding. And I suppose those “weird twists of understanding”, or the hope of finding them, are what draw me to Deleuze (w/ and w/out Guatarri (as well as the book.

At the same time, I’m sympathetic with Jame’s Williams’ critical stance towards Deleuze’s use of free indirect discourse. I see as well that he could have arrived at the same understanding in a more direct step-by-step manner, even if it would have meant making points (temporary ones (that were superficial compared to what it was he was getting at as steppingstones. At the same time, there are two poles in the spectrum of writing: the functional (that which directly disseminates meaning (and the aesthetic: that which disseminates meaning in indirect (poetic (but more pleasing ways: that which puts philosophy in motion. And it seems to me that Deleuze was always straddling both.

Still, I could approach it (enjoy the aesthetic while having the benefit of direct exposition (by following the more popular approach to Deleuze in America. It would certainly seem more efficient and productive. I mean have I become some kind of esoteric snob: the egomaniac and contrarian that elevates their self by interjecting every time someone talks about something popular with:

“Oh no! Silly child. You would be much better off reading Difference and Repetition.”

?

Could I ever reach such a point?

However, in my defense (and much to my relief (Hughes does point out that most of the discourse that has gone on around Deleuze has pretty much been conditioned by his obscurity: most of it has centered around trying to understand what he was actually saying as compared to a direct critique of it. So I stand among scholars.

Still, you have to ask how it was that a man that did everything he could to evade interpretation could attract so many potential interpreters: people who committed a large part of their lives to decoding it.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:23 pm

Anyway, Greg, I’m really enjoying the chapter on Pontius Pilate. He has always been an intriguing character to me. Of course, I must confess, my understanding of him comes from some movie I watched about Christ’s crucifixion –that is not having read the biblical account. He just seemed to be an observer (while being equally caught in the middle of it (of the absurdity of it all. In the movie, he was like “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO SPARE BARABBAS OVER THIS MAN? This man has done nothing to you.” And when the people reaffirmed their choice, he shook his head and sighed something like:

“Alright. But who will punish us?”

Now this may have been an addition of the movie that might not have been in the biblical text. Still Carroll’s book confirms my original sense of him. What Carroll’s book pointed out to me is that the man tried several times (even to the point of having Jesus whipped with barbed wire (that is in the hope of appeasing the animosity that the Jewish people felt toward him (then stood him before them to ask the same question again only to get the same answer. Once again, it was as if Pilate was bearing witness to the absurdity before him, forming a judgment about how wrong it was, but finding himself forced to do what he didn’t really want to. Of course, Jesus’ oblique (philosopher-like (approach to meaning (his deconstructive elusiveness (didn’t help the situation any. Pilate was basically a protagonist (heroic almost (in the story.

Connected to this is the character I see downplayed in the story thus far: Herod. Herod, while being a kind of rock-star aristocrat found himself faced with the same dilemma Pilate did. He mocked Jesus while also showing a kind of intrigue with the man. And he had the luxury of doing so because Jesus clearly posed no real threat to him. This was why he passed the matter on to Pilate.

The problem for me, Greg, is that this undermines my hermeneutic of Christ as an effective resistance to the Roman Empire –that is even though he effectively played a part in bringing it down after his death. His main confrontation, as the book points out, was with the church. At the same time, it reinforces my sense of Christ as the ultimate d.constructive hero and, in that sense, the ultimate philosopher that we must give the same respect we do Socrates. As I have said time and time again: what got him killed is the fact that he belonged to everyone while belonging to no one at the same time. He didn’t stand up to the Roman Empire as much as he stood up to everyone.

You don’t have to be a practicing Christian for him to warrant your respect.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:46 am

Unfortunately, for me (maybe not so much the unfortunate souls on Politics Prime who have had to deal with my rants), tonight’s run ends this particular immersion. And it is unfortunate for me in that last night’s debate seemed to offer quite a lot of material for exploration: a reading of what seems to be going between the lines as concerns Trump’s arguments that skirts the line of semiology.


What I would mainly focus on is his attack on her about the fact that regardless of what policy she supported, she seems, after 20+ years in politics, to have failed to implement them. Now what we mainly need to note here is that Trump was at a decided advantage in that while we have a public record as concerns Hillary’s political accomplishments, we have none as concern’s Trump’s. This is always (and inherently (the incumbent’s disadvantage. Of course, what it always fails to acknowledge is how likely it is that the newcomer (in this case Trump (due to systemic imperatives (will likely fail to do everything they promise –that is if not more so. This came to the surface when Hillary pointed out that the reason she didn’t pass a particular policy is because she was Senator under a Republican president that had “veto power”. But really telling of how clueless Trump is was his response: she could of done it if she really wanted to.


Now I really need you to think about that and how indicative it was of Trump’s either ignorance of how the political system actually works or the fantasy world he is living in, one in which everything is simply a matter of the will to do it.


The latter seems the more likely to me. And the reason I say this is that Trump’s main appeal is to the fancy of his followers. If you look at it, it has basically been a kind of Quentin Tarintino revenge fantasy in which those nasty immigrants finally “get theirs”. But more important here is the fantasy he is appealing to of the so-called “career politician” (a buzz-term that career politicians tend to throw at other politicians) in order to make himself seem, somehow, more pure or authentic. He basically paints Hillary as someone sitting around in private, twiddling their fingers, and croaking:


“First I’m going to tell them what they want to hear. Then when I get in, I’m going to do whatever I want.”


It’s a popular notion. But that doesn’t make it true. Basically what Trump is attempting to do is paint Hillary as purely self indulgent (based on a mythology (when he has shown himself to be as about as self indulgent as any politician could possibly be.


But Trump is not as problematic to me as his followers. They, for some absurd reason, consider him an advocate for the working man when the only solution I’ve seen him offer for outsourcing is tax-cuts for the rich (to draw jobs back to the states (and deregulation. In other words: Trump’s only solution to the problems created by globalism is giving the rich more of what they want:


To basically reduce us to the same conditions as third world countries.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:19 pm

One of the most important questions for the intellectually and creatively curious (especially since the advent of NAZI Germany (has been what it is that will drive some people to seek out their own oppression. This is especially pertinent in America where many cling to the republican platform. We basically have a lot of people who, for all their tight-fisted bravado and claims to be the true rebels, see the only solution to our problems in dropping to our knees and sucking the dick of every rich man that comes along. And I’m sorry if that seems crude and a little harsh; but it is pretty much what every policy they offer amounts to. This includes Trump who claims he will undermine free trade agreements, but only offers the solution of tax-breaks for corporations and deregulation. Once again, the same thing: maybe if we suck their dicks a little harder, maybe they’ll give us more of what we want. But all it really amounts to is reducing America to the same state as other third world countries so that we’ll be more attractive to them.

My answer to the question has thus far been the evolutionary competitive mode that has been with all organisms from the beginning which eventually evolved to a cooperative mode and that now it is a matter of making the complete leap to the cooperative mode. In other words, what we’re dealing with, as concerns the republican platform, is an evolutionary backlash that refuses to make the leap from the competitive to the cooperative evolutionary mode.

But in a kind of Deleuzian engagement, I saw something in the HBO series West World that brought in a little more depth and subtlety. In it, Anthony Hopkin’s character was describing an ex-partner of his who took on the extra ambition of actually trying to create consciousness. He drew up a pyramid which, at one level, consisted of self interest. This was kind of a revelation for me in that I realized how deeply embedded self interest is in the very phenomenon of consciousness. It basically goes back to a debate me and some friends had on LSD back in the 90’s: whether insects had a sense of self. I argued that they did. I based this on the recognition that the very notion of self preservation required that the organism has to have some sense of what it is they are trying to preserve. If the more mechanistic view was true, then the organism would only kick into self preservation mode when the neural system was broached. But insects anticipate threats to their self preservation. I mean if that weren't the case, it would be a lot easier to swat flies.

Now imagine how this self preservation (self interested mode (and anticipatory subsystem must be working in the republican sensibility.
*
In terms of Deleuze and Guatarri’s rhizomatic epistemological system, we can see its advantage over the aborescent in some very practical and accessible ways. Take, for instance, the police shootings of African Americans in American ghettoes. Under the old aborescent model, there is a tendency to look for first causes: racism, poverty, lack of monitoring of police activities, etc., etc.. And let us not forgot the most obtuse and insidious argument: the laziness of African Americans and their refusal to “get a job”. But under the rhizomatic model, we see, rather, a complex feedback loop. We have a group of people in a desperate situation who, in response, act more desperately thereby putting police officers in dangerous situations which reinforce whatever racist tendencies they may have and thereby cause them to over-react which puts African Americans in an even more desperate situation to which they react and so on and so on.

Of course, the natural human tendency towards capture leads to over simplified root causes (the arborescent (on both sides: systemic racism on the side of African Americans (which can’t be denied (and the propensity towards desperate behavior on the part of African Americans in distressed environments for white cops (which can’t be denied.

And we see the same dynamic at work with a lot of other things such as Islamic terrorism.

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TSBU
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Re: Postcards:

Post by TSBU » Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:39 pm

At first I thought that you've written the whole 15 pages alone. I was anoyed.
Do you think anybody will read this? I'm curious about that.
If someone all what d63 said, please, put a signal here.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:58 pm

TSBU wrote:At first I thought that you've written the whole 15 pages alone. I was anoyed.
Do you think anybody will read this? I'm curious about that.
If someone all what d63 said, please, put a signal here.
First of all: thanks for asking.

That said, a process requires that we set aside concerns about who notices and focus on our process. So it's not that I think anyone will read this (most people don't have the time and I am nobody, it's that I have to put it out there in the hope that someone might and take off from it until that bounce bounces back to me.

And why were you annoyed when nothing about it required that you read all 15 pages?

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:00 pm

"To see the difference between Heidegger's 'poetic' view of our relation to the tradition and the political view which I wish to attribute to American pragmatism, consider the distinction between 'pseudo-problems' and 'real' problems which Heidegger shares with Carnap. On the pragmatist view, as on Carnap's, a pseudo-problem is one which there is no point in discussing because, as William James put it, it turns upon a difference which "makes no difference." It is a "merely verbal problem" -that is, one whose resolution would leave the rest of our beliefs unchanged. This is close to Heidegger's own meaning, as is shown by the fact that some of his examples of pseudo-problems ("other minds," "the external world") are the same as Carnap's." -from the essay "Philosophy as Science, Metaphor, Politics" in Rorty's Essays on Heidegger and Others

We come up, again, to an issue that has troubled me (that is while enticing: the relationship between theory and social and political policy. There is a relationship in some trickle down way. But I still maintain that there is a disconnect in that philosophy constitutes a kind of conceptual play that MAY or may not have practical applications. Granted, Rorty poses Pragmatism as a practice that may undermine my understanding. It does, after all, talk about social justice. But that is the problem for me: it talks about it while not exactly proposing any concrete means of achieving it.

I return to one of my main issues with Rorty: his engagement with meta-philosophy tends to lead to a lot of talk about how to think about things (a kind of intellectual manifesto (while never actually applying them to anything but the history of philosophy. Not that there is anything wrong with that!!!! But it still undermines the pragmatic claim that they have created some kind of bridge between Theory and social and political practice.

At the same time, much as the case is with Deleuze, it does change sensibility. But the problem with that, as Trump’s ascendance to the top position in America has shown, is that most people’s sensibility are not directly affected by Theory. So I doubt they would be anymore affected by the down to earth sensibility of Rorty’s pragmatism than they would Deleuze’s esoteric attempts at relating to the common man.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:40 pm

“One cannot claim that they [the Nazis] were grey, dispassionate bureaucrats blindly following orders in accordance with German authoritarian tradition of unconditional obedience [think Arendt’s Banality of Evil here] : numerous testimonies bear witness to the excess of enjoyment the executioners found in their enterprise (see the numerous examples of ‘unnecessary’ supplementary inflicting of pain or humiliation –urinating on an old Jewish Lady’s head, etc.)….

….So although the book [Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners] may be problematic in some of its historical research, its basic premise is simply undeniable: the executioners did have a choice, they were on average fully responsible, mature, ‘civilized’ Germans.” –From Zizek’s Plague of Fantasies

The former paragraph was an extraction from a paragraph that was too long to type out in full in this sitting, one in which Zizek engages in a list poem strategy where every sentence starts with the refrain “One cannot claim” then follows it with a disclaimer. The reason I picked out this one is that it acts as a logical segue to another dynamic of cruelty that seems to be at play, that which fits into Zizek’s push/pull jouissance in the context of human cruelty, but seems to be neglected.

I thinking here of Kierkegaard’s Continuation of Sin. This dynamic results from the subject, having given in to an evil impulse, defers guilt by, in a sense, leaning into the evil. For instance, there was an instance in America in which two teenage boys, after a lot of mutual fantasizing about it, killed one of the boy’s parents. Then, instead of accepting the guilt of what they had done, they decided to just lean into it: become pure evil. They then went to their school and started shooting.

And in the spirit of Zizek, we can see this dynamic as well in the movie I love You to Death in which a couple of stoners (played by William Hurt and Keanu Reaves) are hired by a betrayed wife to kill her philandering husband. After shooting the husband in his sleep, they take pause wondering if they had actually managed accomplish what they were hired to do. And they’re clearly not comfortable with it. Then one of them makes a joke like one might hear in the movies when one character kills another and break into forced goonish chuckles as if to pretend they were perfectly comfortable (sociopathic enough (with what they had done.

We can also see this in the movie Platoon in which Charlie Sheens’ character (the moral center of the story) berates a young Vietnamese male during a raid on a village –one that happens to be physically ugly because of some unknown birth defect. The important thing to note is how Sheen plays it as if he is completely uncomfortable with what he is doing, but attempts to get beyond that discomfort by leaning into the act for the sake of allegiance to his platoon.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:59 pm

“So, in South Korea, we find top economic performance, but with the frantic intensity of the work rhythm; unbridled consumerist heaven, but permeated with the hell of solitude and despair; abundant material wealth, but with the desertification of the landscape; imitation of ancient traditions, but with the highest suicide rate in the world.” -Zizek, Slavoj. Trouble in Paradise: From the End of History to the End of Capitalism (p. 21). Melville House. Kindle Edition.

What we might note here is the extent to which Deleuzian acceleration (especially as concerns his work with Guatarri (that which any creative person would be excited about while most people experience it as speed smear to the point of exhaustion (can exacerbate the problem while remaining a credible solution. Yes, it is that complex. The problem for me lies in the fact that Capitalism, in order to maintain the income differential between the medium worker (the buying power created by any economy (and the average CEO (that which is folded into the exchange value of any product we buy, a constant state of change (or what D & G refer to as becoming (must be maintained. And as any Psychology 101 class will tell you: change is synonymous with stress.

To give you a sense of where I’m coming from in the context of Zizek’s point, I would make an anecdotal point. Every day, in my everyday routine (which you see the result of everyday), I go to the same bar. And I do this not only because it is an important part of my process (it is the point at which I go back into some earlier point in the obscure philosophy book I am reading and just concentrate on a smaller fragment, but because I don’t think there is anything else I would rather give my money to. This is because I know, perfectly well, that I will never walk into that bar and have the owner tell me:

“Listen D., we’ve upgraded. We can no longer offer you the Busch Lite you are use to. But if you pay a little more for these micro-brewed beers, I can guarantee you the increase in cost will be justified.”

The thing about my bar is that it is a straightforward exchange. Now compare that to the constant state of change we experience when it comes to technology. Technology has to change in order to keep the so-called rational consumer as irrational as they can. Rational consumers might make rational choices such as getting rid of purchases they can’t afford such as cable. They might decide that cable is not really as necessary as they have brought themselves to believe. And not only would this affect the cable companies, but those who sell their products on it as well.

Granted, my bar owner might be an expression of Smith’s Capitalism. But the corporate expression is something quite different. It must depend on a constant state of expansion.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:38 am

Theory, like most soft sciences or soft expressions of the academic/god’s-eye perspective (social sciences: psychology, sociology, History, etc. (has a unique advantage in that, like science but unlike science, they can explore the molecular aspects of the human experience (the human experience being, for the most part, being off limits to science due to the subjective nature of it (while not being beholden to the molar aspect of it as the arts are. Literature, for instance, may attempt to approach the complexity (the molecular (of the human experience, but it is always returned to molar means of getting there –that is in order to resonate with and seduce the reader.


To approach this from a different angle, we who embrace theory tend to demean the molar superficiality of political rhetoric (which is a kind of literature. But how effective would it be (language, from a pragmatic perspective, being a tool that gets things done (were we to tailor it to the more molecular understanding of theory? Say, for instance, a politician were to argue that there were certain things they wanted to do but, given the complexities of the system they were attempting to gain access to, there was no way of knowing they could actually achieve them. How far would they get in the average electoral process?


Such a molecular approach would be as effective as a comedian backtracking after every punch line.


Poetry, even, may point to the molecular, but must do so by molar means. It's just the way of language.

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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 6:28 am

“What is data is also contextual and based on values, such as whether data is skewed and what individual pieces of information should be included in overall data. Then facts may be inferred, so it is a long string of subjective assertions. We need data and we need facts, so the best thing is to acknowledge the subjectivity by which they are constructed, go ahead and do that, and quit assuming any points to reality or is representational.” –David McDivitt​

“Yes, David, and we also need truths to temporarily anchor us and give us something to work with until further facts and data force us to move on to further truths.” –me

This discourse was basically a bounce (or a couple of them (off of the distinction I made between facts, data, and truths: facts being the building blocks of data and data being the build blocks of truths which are always shifting according to incoming facts and data. Now I want to connect this with a quote I extracted from Rorty’s Essays on Heidegger and Others:

“To my mind, the persistence on the left of this notion of 'radical critique' is an unfortunate residue of the scientistic conception of philosophy. Neither the idea of penetrating to a reality behind the appearances, not that of theoretical of theoretical foundations for politics, coheres with the conception of language and inquiry which, as I have been arguing, is common to Heidegger and to Dewey. For both ideas presuppose that someday we shall penetrate to the true, natural, ahistorical matrix of all possible language and knowledge. Marx, for all his insistence on the priority of praxis, clung to both ideas, and they became dominant within Marxism after Lenin and Stalin turned Marxism into a state religion. But there is no reason why either should be adopted by those who are not obliged to to practice this religion.”

Now I want to re-emphasize a quote in David’s quote:

“What is data is also contextual and based on values, such as whether data is skewed and what individual pieces of information should be included in overall data.”

And further emphasize a point in Rorty’s:

“For both ideas presuppose that someday we shall penetrate to the true, natural, ahistorical matrix of all possible language and knowledge.”

Now I want to zero in on the term “ahistorical”.

The point I’m trying to get at here (in my bricolage/found poem kind of way (is that truths are always shifting according to the facts and data (both formal and informal (available to any given truth: that point of capture in a process of constant becoming. In other words: truths can never be truly “ahistorical”. They must, as my audio book on Dewey points out to me, be always conditional on the facts and data (the contingencies and variables (that a given point in history offer them. This is why, for instance, solutions that might have worked in the past can no longer work for us now: such as Adam Smith’s notion of Capitalism –as brilliant as it may have seemed at the time.

Rorty then goes on to say:

“The moral I wish to draw from the story I have been telling is that we should carry through on the rejection of metaphilosophical scienticism. That is, we should let the debate between those who see contemporary democratic societies as hopeless, and those who see them as our only hope, be conducted in terms of the actual problems now being faced by those societies. If I am right in thinking thinking that the difference between Heidegger's and Dewey's ways of rejecting scientism is political rather than methodological or metaphysical, then it would be well for us to debate political topics explicitly, rather than using Aesopian philosophical language. “

I fully agree with Rorty here. And it is why he is part of my holy triad. At the same time, I return to my main criticism of Rorty in that he talked a lot about how we should approach the discourse about social justice while never really addressing individual issues concerning social justice. On the other hand, it was like he was fighting the good fight on another front. What we have to put in mind here is that he was making his way through the academic system in opposition to the increasing influence of the analytic approach to philosophy (via the universities’ increasing dependence on corporate financing (and the consequent hierarchal notion of philosophy. It’s as if he got so caught up in the debate over the rules of the language game (basically distracted (that he never got to apply his rules in the very tangible ways he describes above.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:11 pm

"Earlier I said that theorists like Heidegger saw narrative as always a second best, a propaedeutic to a grasp of something deeper than the visible detail. Novelists like Orwell and Dickens are inclined to see theory as always second-best, never more than a reminder for a particular purpose, the purpose of telling a story better. I suggest that the history of social change in the modern West shows that the latter conception of the relation between narrative and theory is the more fruitful.


"To say that it is more fruitful is to say that, when you weigh the good and the bad the social novelists have done against the good and bad the social theorists have done, you find yourself wishing that there had been more novels and fewer theories. You wish that the leaders of successful revolutions had read fewer books which gave them general ideas and more books which gave them an ability to identify imaginatively with those whom they were to rule." -from Rorty's Essay's on Heidegger and Others


This one is powerful in the complex way, for me, it winds its way through the subtle relationship between theory and the personal. To start, while I fully agree with Rorty’s lean towards narrative, and its efficacy as concerns social justice, I find, as I sink into middle age, that philosophy and theory has basically hijacked my aesthetic. The older I get, the harder I find it to go back to the arts. More and more, it’s getting like I have to force myself in the same way one might force themselves to eat spinach because it is good for them. This scares me because it reminds me of a point made in M. Merleau Ponty’s The Phenomenology of Perception in which he describes a case study in which the individual, having lost their sexuality, loses a lot more than sexuality: their ability to respond to beauty in general. Luckily, it hasn’t gone as far as it sounds as, right now, I am listening to Bon Iver and finding it essential to what I am writing right now.

That said, Rorty gives me every reason to force myself (or fake it until I make it as we’re told in 12 step groups (since, as he rightly points out, theory requires a kind of detachment that is counterproductive to social justice. Art, on the other hand, is useless without empathy or even sympathy. I would focus in on:

“You wish that the leaders of successful revolutions had read fewer books which gave them general ideas and more books which gave them an ability to identify imaginatively with those whom they were to rule."

And as he suggests without explicitly saying so, this is pretty much what happened with the communist experiment in Russia and China, and it is the same experiment at work with Milton Friedman’s Neo-Liberalism. Make no mistake about that. And make no mistake about the fact that America is about to engage in that experiment which has never been (nor ever can be (implemented through democratic means. Think Pinochet here: pure theory over the actual experiences of the subjects involved.

d63
Posts: 541
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:31 pm

"Earlier I said that theorists like Heidegger saw narrative as always a second best, a propaedeutic to a grasp of something deeper than the visible detail. Novelists like Orwell and Dickens are inclined to see theory as always second-best, never more than a reminder for a particular purpose, the purpose of telling a story better. I suggest that the history of social change in the modern West shows that the latter conception of the relation between narrative and theory is the more fruitful.

"To say that it is more fruitful is to say that, when you weigh the good and the bad the social novelists have done against the good and bad the social theorists have done, you find yourself wishing that there had been more novels and fewer theories. You wish that the leaders of successful revolutions had read fewer books which gave them general ideas and more books which gave them an ability to identify imaginatively with those whom they were to rule." -from Rorty's Essay's on Heidegger and Others

“When you say theory, you mean a totalizing political system which is then implemented. What alternatives to some organizing principle, or theoretical framework are there as an antidote? It seems we are forced to choose one theory or another.” –Chris

“Not necessarily political, Chris. But it is in the political that theory becomes problematic -that is, as I am trying point out, in giving itself privilege over concrete answers to concrete problems. The very paradox you present seems to me to be what the the pragmatic approach is attempting to overcome.” -Me

” I see all theory as political in the final analysis! Also I think, without owning up to the inescapable necessity of ideology we induce the worst form of theory, the 'given' - or as you've put it, the concrete answer. Very non-pragmatic as this presupposes some real, solid politically disinterested neutral foundation that appears to do away with theory and lets in the common sense brigade - BUT it's just another theory!” –Chris again

With all due respect Chris (you have made some insightful and challenging points (I would argue that you are neglecting the recognition that ideologies do nothing while people, on the other hand, do everything. Ideologies (as are often expressed through theories (tend to be expressions of our basic impulses and desires and therefore tend to follow human praxis. For instance, neither Communism nor Marx exterminated 6 million plus people; Stalin (a paranoid narcissist with a Christ complex (remind you of anyone? (did.

And I would point out, as Rorty did in the book I am quoting, that under Stalin’s regime there was always someone (a kind ascetic priest (appointed to interpret Marxist theory in the “correct way”. And that person was always the second most feared person in the Stalinist regime and may be the foundation of a phenomenon that Zizek correctly noted: that Hitler’s regime was relatively rational in that, unless you were a Jew or rocked the boat, you were reasonably safe, while under Stalin’s regime there was no way of knowing, regardless of what you did, if the men in dark suits might come knocking at your door.

This is not to say that theory is evil, but rather that it is a mixed package much as the pragmatic approach is. As you impressively point out:

“But the breakdown in social systems that have a classical polis, ie a control and command center, networks, common legal overview etc, has given rise to de-centred neo-liberal capitalism which thrives on a certain anarchy that allows money to free flow according to market forces with no "god' to adjudicate - or collect the taxes.”

I would compliment your point with mine concerning the sociopathic response to the nihilistic perspective in relation to the symbolic: that in which, having no other criteria of right action, turns to the criteria of power:

“I have power because I am right; therefore, I am right because I have power.”

And this, to me, is the underlying alibi of the abuses of Neo-liberalism. In this sense, your description seems perfectly accurate to me. At the same time, I would ask you to consider Deleuze and Guatarri’s point that Capitalism should act as a deterritorializing force, but always seems to return to territorializing ones or what I refer to as the tyranny of the functional. Neo-Liberal Capitalism is the wolf of perfect control (it can never be implemented through democratic means as examples like Pinochet show us (dressed in the sheep’s clothing of freedom. It does have fossilized ways of thinking that require that we break free of them via concrete solutions to concrete problems. Therefore, it makes sense to follow the D & G nomadic prescription of pushing Capitalism's tendency towards deterritorialization further than it, itself, would want to go. Rorty's pragmatism is just a less abrasive approach to it.

Revolution is not theory. It is a series of concrete acts.And in the process of revolution, it would make no sense for any of us to ask: what would Rorty or Plato or any other theorist do?

Impenitent
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Impenitent » Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:50 pm

yes, but revolution is not for sensibility...

cry havoc!

(and the band played on...)

-Imp

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