Category Archives: myself

Why life isn’t precarious

There are many who focus on life’s precariousness or its intrinsic vulnerability for good reason. They want to protect us from the many threats that we face. It is, however, quite a precarious thing to highlight our intrinsic vulnerability to extrinsic threats. Indeed, as soon as we feel vulnerable we feel alone. And when we feel alone we get our defenses up to the extent we do not want to let anyone in. This much is clear from our reaction to the various immigration crises around the world. Focusing on a first person’s precariousness creates the third person’s threat; me and him, us and them.

What the feeling of precariousness does is create the feeling of a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog world. We may then have good intentions, even be convinced with Rousseau that man or nature unspoiled is intrinsically good, but the result is the same: the struggle to retrieve a long lost freedom is our essence. As Derrida deconstructed it, the arrow points backward instead of forward. And that’s not good because whatever way you look at it, we will live our lives predominantly in the future.

The question is: ‘Can we do better?’. My answer is: ‘Yes, we can!’ Here’s why.

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“What now?”,

is what he asked himself, quite unoriginally. Except, maybe, for the quotation marks and comma in the title. It dawned on him self-referentiality might well be what he (hmm, not quite getting this sentence right?) was starting to refer to. Weird is what he was, but what was weird? (other than writing this in the past tense).

You with me? Was! Well, I lost my self. Then I regained one. Just to ask: “What now?” and that question is always in the past so always already answered but also always – all over – again and again ready to be asked; always all over. I am trying to make sense, you know, as did he (whom I am) did, starting all this on a whim.

More or less? You wanna know? Well, I do. So fuck you, here’s more.

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Nightmare 1 on Albert Street

Legs heavy, I need to get there. Wear? Tear! Let me hold onto this railing. Oh – my arms feel wobbly as hell. How come everybody moves so swiftly? Why am I thinking in question marks? Keep moving. Do keep moving. It is important somehow although utterly unclear how anything can be. Important. I can’t rest, I would be trampled in dirt. So, move, ass-hole, move, you have two arms two pull you along if necessary. People bump into me – I go too bloody slow. Embarrassing. I’d like to apologize for hindering them. Don’t I know her? She’s nice. It’s time to man up. There, on my feet again. See I can do it. Others flow past me. I am an obstacle in their course. Speed the fuck up! My calves are trailing my thighs. I have to be an odd sight. Don’t scream. You tried. It was just disappointment. Just move on, if you fall maybe they’ll notice. Just make it dramatic. Extend your arms to break your fall. Delete that – breaking your nose will draw more attention. Anyway, your arms are tired already and you might need them again, later. Things are so grey even these words stand out too much. I’m not tired, just feeling unwell. It’ll be all right when I’m there. I can see some red. It might be my imagination.

Damn the fuck. Stairs! They seem endless even if there are only ten of them. Or Continue reading

Sur des vers de Virgile

“Sommes-nous pas bien brutes de nommer brutale l’opération qui nous fait?” M. de Montaigne, Essais III, Chapitre V, p. 132, Éd’s Gallimard, 1965.

[Amateuristic English translation: “Aren’t we brutes for calling the action that made us brutal?”]

It’s been a while. Let me talk about myself a bit: Continue reading

Letters from an Atheist: Post-Perfectionism

No quote today. Just an announcement: I stopped reading. Obviously not quite, nobody can actually stop reading, nor do I have the intention to try to do something that is not quite possible. What I want to say is that I stopped reading for the purpose of being better at being well-read. Or shorter: I stopped reading for a purpose. Is this a big fucking deal? It isn’t, I suppose. What is?

I started out as a doubting atheist looking for a ‘clean’ solution. Looking for ‘the’ clean solution, in fact. A solution that would settle things once and for all. I have ended up a convinced atheist who knows that his first hunches were correct all along. More on that later, more on why those hunches were non-coincidental, below the fold. ‘Nothing is true, some things are false’ is the summary of my hunches. But how to sell that? How to make that catchy? How to win the charity of readers necessary for them to hear me out? I don’t know. What I do know is that something will need to come after modernism and post-modernism (and that it is unlikely to feature the term ‘modernism’). My proposal is the following: after post-modernism came perfectionism and the right term for the post-60’s up to now is that: perfectionism. We are a generation that wants things to be perfect or ‘as perfect as can be’. Error is to be minimized and, where possible, to be eliminated. An essential feature of progress is in fact seen to be the possibility of identifying areas where errors can be eliminated instead of just being minimized.

My proposal after having stopped reading is this: our next step is to move on to a view that can be best labeled as post-perfectionism.

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Another one of those quoteless quoughts. Life is too hectic for me to do anything more complicated than just think my thoughts. So here is an old thought that I never put in a public place (I am considering my cognitive science thesis as a rather private place, and besides: the thought didn’t have quite as sexy a name as in the title above). Probably I didn’t do that because it allowed me to flatter myself into thinking that once, when I had some real time, I’d work this out and people would be baffled by a thought so unequivocally changing the boundaries of any future thinking.

But I do no longer want to flatter myself. Reality is much too painful in the light of what might happen, certainly when you are convinced that what might happen ought in fact to happen.

The thought is simple: there’s a characterization of philosophy that, if at all highlighted, was never highlighted enough. It’s about the difference between static and dynamic philosophy; between the synchronic and diachronic approaches to knowledge. Sure, people have demarcated between absolute systems such as the Hegelian one and generically open-ended non-systems such as the Bergsonian élan vital. But in this case the demarcation is done to serve the purpose of a fingerpointing of the other side as ‘bad’. Closest to my thought is Wittgenstein where at least in one person, albeit split over two almost non-overlapping time periods, you have both aspects integrated. Because my thought is not a thought of either/or, my thought is a thought of neither/nor.

But I’ll leave it to the interested reader to click for further reading in order not to cloud the front page with my babble:

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Nothing is true, some things are false

No quote but merely something I once thought (and still kind of think). It has the virtue of expressing the fundamental asymmetry of things. One could also say it expresses something some people would term the ‘directionality’ of life. But that will require some ‘teasing out’, as those same people that would use such terminology would say.

But before any of that: yes, I believe firmly that the title statement above is unequivocally true. Go on and make fun of me – as ‘the great many’ did when I uttered this proposition on the internet somewhat more than a decade ago. It is not just a matter that I believe it is true but also that I believe there is no contradiction – not even a paradox – in proporing this title sentence and believing it is true.

Never mind the ego-centrosm of this last paragraph though, let us examine what the proposition can show us who have enough of an open mind not to require of the utterer of an apparent contradictio in terminis that she is famous in order to take both the utterer and the utterance seriously:

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