Saturday, October 24, 2009

southern freeze

The culture-heroes of our liberal bourgeois civilization are anti-liberal and anti-bourgeois; they are writers who are repetitive, obsessive, and impolite, who impress by force not simply by their tone of personal authority and by their intellectual ardor, but by the sense of acute personal and intellectual extremity. The bigots, the hysterics, the destroyers of the self these are the writers who bear witness to the fearful polite time in which we live. It is mostly a matter of tone: it is hardly possible to give credence to ideas uttered in the impersonal tones of sanity. There are certain eras which are too complex, too deafened by contradictory historical and intellectual experiences, to hear the voice of sanity. Sanity becomes compromise, evasion, a lie. Ours is an age which consciously pursues health, and yet only believes in the reality of sickness. The truths we respect are those born of affliction. We measure truth in terms of the cost to the writer in suffering rather than by the standard of an objective truth to which a writer's words correspond. Each of our truths must have a martyr.

---Susan Sontag.

Some more idle, arbitrary chatter:

back in the soulful days, when being cynical wasn't seen as a sign of intelligence, a rite of passage to an understanding of the world, a mark of maturity. That kind of whingeing fanaticism tires you, grates on your nerves. the hysterical frame of mind that sees evil, barbarians, everywhere. there's something northern about it, perhaps. slightly unhinged. wants to shatter everything-religion, the state, society, the very notion of truth- with a hammer, is in love with sickness and suffering, even as one harps on about health. Man (and not just man) is sick (and God isn't feeling too well either!). Killing someone is viewed as 'incivility'! What the fuck? All that is needed is one that see another person as a human being. Evidently not!

You don't think understanding is a revelation of an idea, but a meeting of it half way. What Hannah saw: those who think there is only the world, animal life, come to detest the world, want to escape from it, and from life itself. And yet Hannah, the Allama, aren't idols. No need to get so upset or defensive about them. He who follows Iqbal doesn't need to follow Iqbal.

Chatter. Yes, that's it! That's it precisely! Had this very same discussion with the dougal in the morning, over delicious German bread and honey with Lukas and Anjum. Hierarchy, the men in pointed hats, the 'knowers' and the experts. Kenneth Clark was perhaps right after all: they're often thick as swans. Knowing isn't everything. Why does this often go hand-in-hand with a contempt for ordinary things, for mere 'opinion'? The opposite of muddled thinking isn't the absence of thinking, but a different approach, a different notion of clarity, one that includes caritas. That's work, hard work for some..not a matter of wondering whether another person is human or not but, rather: how can you be more human. Right-seeing is also about seeing oneself clearly. Not a definitive image, but an approach, an exercise, an exploration.

anton, love your images and words to bits, and am in awe of your intelligence, but do let me finish a post first, dear one!


Antonia said...

oh b i find this a bit cheap of you. it looks to me now like you didn't make a real effort of understanding c's writing. you even admitted it in the comments. now it seems to me like you only participated in the discussion to confirm your own prejudices of some thinker you haven't even read properly, maybe so as - yes and now i say it, retire from life to your own secluded position which you arbitrarily decorate with arendt or anti-fanaticism chatter and never ever let your position challenge by "the unknown" or conceptions of what "human" is, in the first place. where was the meeting half way? i thought i tried. did you try?
you don't have to like or agree with c, fine by me, but at least pretend some lesser degrees of superficiality. something new b, i know you can do it. really.

billoo said...

anton, I find that amusing given that you don't challenge your own prejudice...(always the same arrogance, of telling people what they don't know..perhaps that worked in colonial times, but not now, I'm afraid).

of course, YOU can persist in your warped view of Arendt's position (especially when things are clear in that essay-to anyone who approaches it in a fair way, without bringing in their own psychological hang-ups, that is). But then again, it's not "prejudiced", because it's YOUR view! QED.

i'd love to say that I "know" you can get out of your arrogance, but I'm not sure you can and one can hardly pretend that one has any manners, I'm afraid.

Secondly, this isn't a comment on Collingwood or any 'thinker'(note the absence of any names). The revelation bit -and the post-wasn't finished and it wasn't connected.

No, I didn't try, because this wasn't meant to be a post about him or his views (obviously).

Antonia said...

ok. no one moves and we accuse each other of the same things.

Antonia said...

see. how on earth do i know when you're finished a post. nevermind.
you know i really appreciate you adn i often think we don't disagree too much but when we disagree it's quite interesting. you fight your demons and employ your ever same dichotomies and explore them and you can use me as contrast for this, that's fine, really. but i still don't think you're right :) for one, you did not have an answer to the problematic arendt quote either (and to say disagreement is - wow - psychological or bad manners or what, these arguments are, well you know by whom they are used against whom). and if you say you don't take a text serious like c's one the arrogance is rather on your side. nevermind that either. i am ok with this. i enjoy a good argument. it seems to me arguments are much more often about perceptions and how one is being perceived differently. we feel we are being perceived differently and the outcry when one feels one is perceived wrongly. and now the weapons and quotes of choice for defense are chosen and say much more about you than about me, just like the auxiliary clause says much more about the person at stake than everything in the foreground. all "just" chatter. but it is important. seeing one clearly, one never can do that alone, but no one also has a monopoly on saying someone else what they are or how they think or to sort them in categories as knowers or expert, now how human is that,:) and to do this all for ones defense...
humanity. the challenge to the collingwood one is that it forces you to abandon the biological assumption, everyone born as human and not as an animal is also a human, but rather looked at whether humanpeople also being treated as humans or just not, and why is this so, these are the reasons for c's book...nevermind this is getting too long and it's good weather outside...have a good day.

billoo said...

yes, of course, that was my fault...I usually add a ... but I thought that you would ahve noticed that the writing was even more incoherent thatn usual!

Well, since I can't hug you and let this pass I'm afraid I'll have to continue with the argument :-(

Demons. I'm not sure. that makes me sound a lot more interesting than I am. Complexes or psychological hang-ups, arrogance. Yes, that seems fair.

I think there can be genuine disagreements, arguments but sometimes it is also , I think, a matter of temperament and tone that is really driving the arguments. I don't think you're immune from that and nor am I. "pariah bashing" for example...seems to me to be not only incorrect but too extreme a characterization.

the Arendt quote. Just to repeat anton, I was not trying to make a point about the substance but more about the flippant tone she was using. I was actually agreeing with you and saying that it sounded mighty odd. In the same way, C's tone and words seemed odd (to ME, I hastily add).

On the substance of the Arendt point i think I gave a few points (perhaps not very good ones or convincing ones but not, perhaps, totally irrelevant). It wasn't meant as an "answer" anyway. The point simply was: 1. she says that they are forced to be pariahs and the emphasis was on that aspect and 2. there was an aspect or dimension to their condition (warmth or bonds) that actually was something positive.

If one considers both points, that hardly constitutes a "bashing".

Well, I'm not trying to defend myself at all. As I said, this was not a post about C but more on the old theme that I am fixated on. It was not important for me that C or anyone else actually said which words or what HE meant by them (in this post, I mean). what I was *trying* to get at was a way of talking that seems flippant. That *someone* (anyone) could talk and think like this was, to me anyway, quite interesting.

"weapons"..see , that's really my point, anton. weapons, bashing, or I'm not cynical enough, demons..all this, *to me* anyway, just seems too extreme.

i think you make an excellent point about not being able to see clearly without others.

Yes, I can see what you're saying about being challenged to not thinking of humans as not being just animals. We may (but only *may* ) differ here because where we're coming from. The notion that we're just animals isn't something that has much credence here and is, I guess, so strange to me and most of the people that I've grown up (mainly muslims) that it's not something up for question in the first place.

I don't know what C's views are but my point relating to the passage was more in line with something I was trying to think about, a piece written by simone weil (whence the susan sontag quote on weil at the beginning).

The point was whether it is simply a matter of seeing another person as human-as if that was "all" one had to do, and not a natter of education, of establishing and guaranteeing effective rights. i.e trying to move away from a religious-like focus on human nature,the commonalities of an abstract humanness, something that is shared and easily perceivable to a political notion.

hmm..this has been too long. sorry for the things I said in haste. I don't know if this is of any interest but another one of my many failings is that I invariably end up arguing with people I'm very fond of.

Keep well.


Antonia said...

ok. hello. good morning. i don't mind arguing. not that it is my favourite pastime but you are a very good person to argue with. thank you.

i don't have much to say to these other things arendt, collingwood just now. (still not entirely convinved about the arendt one.)
except, you write here:

"The point was whether it is simply a matter of seeing another person as human-as if that was "all" one had to do, and not a natter of education, of establishing and guaranteeing effective rights. i.e trying to move away from a religious-like focus on human nature,the commonalities of an abstract humanness, something that is shared and easily perceivable to a political notion."
well if that turn around would have been made, from this would follow all these other things, guaranteeing of rights etc. if you dont see them as human they don't need any rights or eductation. but once this changes it follows they need to get these things. but yes that was not explicit from the text. maybe also philosopher problem, more an abstract think than a concrete outline what to do. albeit he has that too in his text, what this all would entail...

i'm sorry for always commenting too early on your post when they are not finished yet. bad habit. that makes for misunderstandings too.

Antonia said...

actually we don't have to argue anymore. i have another bad habit of occasionally advanced stubbornness and always want to have the last word. even if i am wrong, just for the sake of it.

and like with th vocabulary, "weapons", "pariahbashing", i tend to the crude and extreme, yet that is mostly to make things superexplicit....

want a cinnamonroll?

billoo said...

well, if I answer that you won't have the last word! :-)

and I want you to have it.

but yes, very kind of you to offer, anton. You know I can't refuse! Hmm...a tricky way to win the argument! :-)

joking, joking...

Take care,


Antonia said...

ok i don't want to win the argument. can i just say that i don't want to win? you can have the cinnamonroll and i don't want to win. ok? ok? :)
take care too.