Tag Archives: death is death

Will-o’-the-Wisp

“Zo ben ik dan eindelijk de baan eens op met mensen die volkomen verschillen van  de volksgenoten met wie ik gedoemd ben al mijn dagen te slijten, (..) die in ieder geval van onze beroemdste medeburgers nooit hebben gehoord en voor wie onze vorsten en heiligen absoluut niet in tel zijn, dus zeer waarschijnlijk mensen naar mijn hart.”Willem Elsschot, Verzameld Werk, Het Dwaallicht, p. 695, P.N. Van Kampen en Zoon N.V., Amsterdam, 1957.

[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dated 16-01-2008. If you retain anything from this it is that you really need to read Elsschot, if possible in Dutch so you can see for yourself how inadequate the below translation is. I have had to be editing the below heavily; when I wrote it I had a worse day than even my usual bad average, I fear.]

(Amateuristic English translation: “So I find myself finally on the road with people that are entirely different from my people (with which I am doomed to spend the rest of my days), (..) people who in any case have never heard of our celebrities and for whom our kings and saints do not count at all; most probably then people to my liking.”)

Group identity is making a come-back; one that would make many retired athletes very jealous indeed. Undoubtedly, getting to a personal identity (an own self and an own personality) requires a substrate of group identity. It requires at least a sufficiently sophisticated language in use by a group of people but probably a common language doesn’t suffice. This provides the foundation for the aggressive resistance of ‘The New Right’ towards diversity and multiculturalism and certainly towards multiculturalism as, itself, being somehow foundational to human society.

‘The New Right’ has a point at least as to group identity deserving more respect than people like me would normally be prepared to give. But does this mean that group identity deserves our absolute respect? Does it mean we have to endorse ethnicities or religions as essentially good, or – at least – as unavoidable evils? Continue reading

Secularism, Immanence, and the Philosophy of Religion

“We could say that the production of an end belongs to signification. Immanence itself is atelic, but the impossibility of escaping signification is simultaneously the impossibility of not producing ends (even though these ends may be revisable).” Daniel Coluccciello Barber, Chapter 7, p. 166 in ‘After the Postsecular and the Postmodern: New Essays in Continental Philosophy of Religion.’ edited by Anthony Paul Smith & Daniel Whistler, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010.

The great joy of being a non-academic is that one can compensate for the knowledge of never going to be discovered as an original thinker with the presumption of being an auto-didact who continually discovers original thought. There is a sense in which it is unavoidable to accept the challenge for giving ‘meaning’ to life, for providing either ‘a purpose’, or ‘a ground; in fine a sense in which it is unavoidable to turn to the religious. Being an auto-didact I can credibly maintain I so turned irrespective of the goings-on in the world of serious academics; having turned to the book quoted then is just sheer good luck.

But let me turn to the quote: Continue reading