Posts Tagged ‘existentialism’

SWILL: Economy But One Strata In Whole Geology Of Troubles

23 Feb




Date: 23 Feb 2001 03:07:35 +0000


Reading more from Article 3:

The SI also inherited a nineteenth century conception of materialism from the same sources. This legacy prevented SI critique from appreciating the complex alchemical processes which take place between subjective and objective facts (specifically the potent and complex role of existentialism and human psychological necessities which ensue from it). It is specifically this incomplete conception of materialism which gives rise to the naive revolutionism which anticipates that revolution follows dutifully on the heels of revelation—that human belief, perceptions and will follow meekly behind a radical description of the world. The uncomfortably ill-defined relationship of situationism with communist and anarchist blocs also derives from this unfinished work. This discomfort with other leftist bedfellows is in fact serious enough to raise questions about whether situationism is in fact compatible with these other traditions at all (or rather—vice versa).

Rebunk: I might caution against the use of the term "existentialism" in this instance, evoking as it does yer Sartres, Camus', Merleau-Pontys and the rest of yer "Temps Modernes" gang, especially when I think you're referring more to Keirkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky (have we discussed Heidegger ever?)

Ghe word Existentialism should definitely appear in the said declaration because it is a word which we cannot afford to lose to the enemy. However, I shall try to think of a phrase to add which briefly defines what is meant by it so that, as you say, it is distanced from the dreary likes of Sartre and Camus. As for Heidegger—wot a friggin kraut wanker he woz, eh? A genius without doubt but I'd sooner not have to actually go mince myself in any of that shit if it can possibly be avoided. (shoulda mentioned Husserl in there somewhere too—just to annoy the "antifascists").

Rebunk: These thinkers also have something in common with the young Marx, pre-autocritique Lukacs, and all of Korsch in the centrality that the notion of alienation holds within their work. If we can find some form of unification here—whose seeds exist in the work of the Frankfurt School; Kube has already mentioned Reich and Fromm, and I'd like to add Adorno and Benjamin...

Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness.
Not happy with this. "Alienation" is a very much parenthesised version of angst. It tends to constrain the idea, once again, in the dated and inadequate conception that only the issue of production, of capitalist class relations, is what matters in the attempt to realize a better way of life. It tends to distract from the notion of SIN—of the root of alienation in an imperfect response to inherited (and personal) karma (to use no-doubt wholly unacceptable terms to convey a virtually indigestible idea). Reich and Fromm, for all their fine points, did precious little to redress this either, although the psychoanalytic school has certainly come out with some juicy stuff in recent years (such as 'Sexual Personae' and some of its very dubious political conclusions, which I plan to discuss sometime soon). Moreover—what kind of people think of themselves as "alienated" these days? Iffy kinds of people. The fact is that a LACK of alienation is no guide whatever as to whether a person is living a good life or not, and nor, basically, is alienation. All we see in this phenomenon is whether some particular individual is currently relatively successful or unsuccessful in losing him or herself in activity / whether LUCK (as much as anything else) is providing an adequate supply of options at a particular moment.

Rebunk: Then we can relocate revolutionary nihilism in the drama of everyday existence. From this I would tentatively argue that radical change takes place not after revelation, either through the presentation of a utopian ideology or pointing out the poverty of current conditions of existence, but after grasping the mechanisms of real social relations and locating the energies capable of transforming them.

Jahwohl. We are not so far apart on this at all, but to hell with the "tentatively" part. However whilst I do not dismiss the role of capital (therefore would not neglect to pay cheques into my bank account if I had any) the nature of those energies which do indeed transform real social relations is incredibly more subtle, and enduring, than the fixation on mere class-economics has long suggested. A prog on tonights TV suggests to me an example—600 million years ago, the earth for some reason suffered a smallish dip in average temperatures severe enough that in time the sea began to freeze over as far down as Texas. Because the frozen snowy wastes were WHITE, they reflected a substantial proportion of the suns heat back into space thereby making the chill increase geometrically. As a result the entire world was soon frozen solid EVERYWHERE. This flipping of state was basically irreversible—even at the equator there is estimated to have been a kilometre of ice. No free water, no rain—just one big snowball planet under a cold blue sky. (in fact this condition probably lasted for 10 million years until volcanic greenhouse gases flipped it back out). Now my metaphor is this—suppose the handful of degrees of initial chill is equivalent to the relative deprivation induced by material shortages, by the exploitations of captalism. It sets up a chain reaction of social relationships which may in their turn worsen such shortages or in some other way worsen social cruelties or suppress consciousness. It is entirely conceivable for the consequent social conditions to not only perpetuate unnecessary material scarcities even after the technological means of ending them altogether has been brought into existence, but even of increasing atrocities of various kinds as well as denuding life of warmth in general and replacing it with ever-growing suspicion, or hedonistic distractions from emptiness and the rest. The world could be trapped in such conditions for ten million years after the original economic cause has long since been irrelevant. Oh yes it could.

We must eliminate the assumption that reversing such a scenario hinges upon crude mechanisms, or else (at least) to prosper within it we must. The economy is but one strata in a whole geology of troubles—all of which are entirely REAL.



Just A Quick Notion On The Winces of Kierkegaard

22 Apr


Kierkegaard in Suspense


Date: Tue Apr 22, 1997 2:03:45 PM

Whew! E-mail is so much fun, fun, fun, I just hate to quit, but I just wanted to add something to that last note I was meaning to include, but forgot, in my haste to close...but your theology seems patently Kierkegaardian [Soren] who actually is recognized more as a famous existentialist philosopher than the theologian his lesser-known but notable father was.

Are you familiar with this line of devotedness? Actually I count myself among that fuzzy number (in logic) although as the grandfather of modern existentialism (albeit in a christian context, whereas Sartre's atheistic philosophy some 60 years later is generally counted as the full maturity of the logic) Kierkegaard's moral forces point up many more questions rather than answers of the biblical accounts; most famously, his take on Abraham's dilemma in sacrificing Issac in his small book "Fear and Trembling", the moral urgency of the individualistic voice of God as opposed to the giant institutional promises, as God always attempts to stretch his handpicked servant's perceptions far beyond the norm of the culture at hand.

Many christians like to play dodge ball with the sixty-six Jewish books you call the Word, picking and choosing which Old Testament rules to follow and which ones to throw off as a revelation of Jesus. I don't want to draw you into a long-winded blather you are not interested in pursuing, since you've already given me your Pauline summation nicely concise, but I was just wondering what, if anything you thought of the Kierkegaardian concept of God's will beyond common acts of simple goodness just as Hinduistic as anything purportedly Christian? Because in a rough and tumble world, simple goodness and moral certainty often are incompatible with questions of greater good and lasting peace, eh?



"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""