“In the chain of supplements, it was difficult to separate writing from masturbation.” De la grammatologie, Derrida, p. 235.
Some people say it is ludicrous to diagnose historic figures with autism. They, consciously or not, rely on deconstruction to make their point. The word autism only exists from the 20th century and imputing it to historic figures is trying to accord a reality to it which it cannot have. This is bollocks. Instead of deconstructing (i.e. unmasking) a naïve view of things, it reconstructs some kind of innocent naïveté in which nothing goes wrong except by oppression. As if everything we supplement in this society is foreign to the true nature of it. As if words like autism are intrinsically violent and we need to put on our “original” masks of aboriginal innocence. Bollocks – nothing is further removed from the actual text Derrida has written. It is back to the ideas of Rousseau – as if Derrida had not written his supplement on that supplement. It is a reactionary idea common in progressive thought that got scared from its own conclusions and hides in a window-dressed conservatism.
Let me take one of those wild associations of Derrida – masturbation and writing – and do the right thing to show via hyperbole how autism can be literally traced to Homeros – the first (blind!) writer and how the idea of supplement is unavoidably also that of autism as a kind of mental masturbation.
“What is X?”, I wondered and wondered why I would not just go and define X. Well, there is at least one good reason: I cannot define it. There are no equations to resolve it. It ends but when is not a matter for mere mortals to decide which shows that, secular as hell, we are still ruled by the immortal after all.
It is the mystery of life that we have to make choices all the time but can’t make the one that is about life itself. It is something sacred and desecrating it by contemplating it to be over at a certain predefined date spoils the party. Because, oh what fun we have, merrily, merrily on our way.
Well, I’m tired. I’m so bloody tired. Not, mind you, pissed off or desperate or depressed. I am just tired, too tired to make a point but not tired enough to go to sleep. Let me explain how that feels.
I’m feeling rusty & restless. Even the words bounce around now as if they have their own little kids will and just don’t want to be quieted down.
Cool, I’m not.
I know how I’m supposed to be. Not quite cool but not quite uncool either, a golden middle of sorts. Fuck Horace for that by the way. Fuck him with a stick. Probably he’ll like it. Most probably the stick won’t mind either. Sure beats lying around waiting to be given a beating with.
What I wanted to do was talk about death.
I’ll give her a capital even. Come on, Death, leave these other fuckers alone. They seem so busy and all bouncing around like they have nothing more than their little kids will to lead them around. What do I hear them whispering about? Pension, pension, pension. Oddball concept that. I looked into it, Mrs. D., it is healthy time you invest now in order to get a lot of unhealthy time back later. You don’t get it, D.? Me neither, but let’s explore it given you got time with everybody pushing you out indefinitely. Has to be hard on you as well; but, oh no, nobody thinks about the D-man’s point of view. Well I do, D., I do think about your point of view all the time even if those suckers tell me it’s a mad-hat thing to do.
“(..) and I thought that I should not do justice to the subject, and bring it fairly under discussion, if I refused to consider any of the consequences which appeared necessary to flow from it, whatever these consequences might be. By pursuing this plan, however, I am aware that I have opened a door to many objections and, probably, to much severity of criticism: but I console myself with the reflection that even the errors into which I may have fallen, by affording a handle to argument, and an additional excitement to examination, may be subservient to the important end, of bringing a subject so nearly connected with the happiness of society into more general notice.” Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Cambridge University Press (1992) Preface, p.9.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dated 03-08-2008. I am happy to report that I have not changed opinion on it, at all. Even though I never meant it in the way that is of recent en vogue now people are looking for new apocalyptical scenario’s to get worked up about in order to be able to condemn the lifestyle of the many.]
It’s probably thé heresy against woolly thinking: “Charity increases misery.”, and, “Helping out is often just a matter of patronizing.” There is a necessary tendency to overpopulation, and overpopulation is always an issue of the poor. The poor stay poor because the rich need an excess of poverty. Just a couple of really inconvenient things in the line of – I do not claim they are Malthus’ point of view nor even that they can all be based on his findings – Malthus.
“It is further assumed that communicative competence has just as universal a core as linguistic competence. A general theory of speech acts would thus describe precisely that fundamental system of rules that speakers master to the extent that they can fulfill the conditions for a happy employment of sentences in utterances, (..).” J. Habermas in ‘On The Pragmatics of Communication’, edited by Maeve Cooke, P.47, MIT Press, 1998.
I have a great sympathy for some of the failed philosophers like Popper, Habermas and Jaynes. They have a research program based on a great hunch after which they fail to come up with the technical details and get sidelined because of the fact that progress is mostly – and luckily also still in philosophy – a matter of technical progress.
Habermas is important to me because his goal is also my goal: to trace back the moral stance to the basic structure of language and to the preconditions of communication. Such an unashamed aprioristic starting point is to me the only possible route to a really universal claim to humane behaviour; a claim that is not based on traditionalist or maximalist or essentialism assumptions that cannot but lead to a morality characterized by the final non-morality of exclusion.
But he fails in the details.
“Sometimes, when I think of all the time I have spent not learning to do things …” W. Faulkner, Sanctuary, Random House (1958), p. 118.
[Re-Posted from The Old Site, original dd. 16-07-2008. Just keeping the flow. Trying to have more posts than hits and looking increasingly better on that scale.]
Living is learning. Simple, isn’t it? Simple, except in real life, where one is expected to perform and when one is caught up in desires or expectations (like rewards for our performance). Continue reading
“Of course, a decent hierarchical society has never had the concept of one person, one vote, which is associated with a liberal democratic tradition of thought that is foreign to it, and perhaps would think (as Hegel did), that such an idea mistakenly expresses an individualistic idea that each person, as an atomistic unit, has the basic right to participate equally in politicial deliberation.” J. Rawls, The law of peoples, Harvard University Press (1999).
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dated 22-06-2008. Kind of an appropriate time to bring this up again because – even if this post is, as so often here, densely confused – the thinking of Rawls reads like a hand book of what happens at the present moment, under the pressure of people worldwide gaining information on what liberal democracy brings.]
The ways of the world are not simple, quite regardless of how frustrated we get with its complexity. We mostly look back to find things which were better, or at least which in our perception were better. We mostly look forward in an attempt to predict first the next turn for the worst. Fear and dismay are best of friends when we contemplate our individual situation. We attach ourselves to particulars, specifically to particulars that tie into our particular situation. The assessment is simple then: “The world is about to get much worse.” is the Achilles’ heel of the liberal democratic tradition. Continue reading