31-03-10

Anarchism

"Whoever denies authority and fights against it is an anarchist." Sébastien Faure as quoted on p. 11 of 'Anarchism', by George Woodcock, broadview encore editions, 2004.


Since this is degenerating at the moment into a 'what am I reading'-diary, and I was anyway looking to do a 'Pop Culture' entry (it being long ago and all), why not do an anarchist quote?

It's not like the reader - if any - has a choice in the matter ;-)

So I'm an anarchist. That means I have a problem. Because to a real anarchist I will be an example of le nouveau bourgeois. A real anarchist will undoubtedly tell me an enormous amount of things that I will have to give up in order to be a real anarchist (plus probably some things I need to pierce through some selected body parts).

There you have my problem: I'm very bad with authority. So, I wouldn't listen to any well meant advise; certainly if that advise basically consists in telling me what needs to be done to enter a certain group of non-individuals. Nope, I am a bourgeois, and I am proud to be. I want my luxury and I feel no inclination whatsoever to fight, and revolutionize things by waving my arms about and chanting stuff in street choirs. No, I won't get involved in any of this marching and sacrificing and denouncing ...

And I certainly don't feel like using the word 'propaganda' as if it was a normal word that did not carry the connotation of brainwashing.

Nor do I particularly care for secret gatherings where people conspire to great things, smoking some stuff & ultimately going home drunk and/or stoned (mostly without a real prospect for having sex).

No, I like my luxury. I like my laziness. I like having the wealth of aristocrats & sons of craftsmen in the XIXth century that had both time & resources to concentrate on a life of thought and action and boozing with like minded souls.

Still I'm also an anarchist because I like my lifestyle and independence so very very much that I'd very much like everybody to be as bourgeois as I am. Some would be very harsh on me for wishing universal laziness. Many of them would say: it is a very decadent thing to convince everybody that they should be as decadent as I am.

They would be right! I am a decadent. This is the decadence movement. Without an exclamation mark ;-)


Whilst writing this I was listening to The Ramones, Weird Tales of The Ramones.

22:12 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (4) | Tags: intention, imagination, pop culture, decadence, boldness |  Facebook |

28-10-09

The Objective Problem (concerning The Truth of Christianity)

"(..) And as for the relationship of the subject to the truth when he comes to know it, the assumption is that if only the truth is brought to light, its appropriation is a relatively unimportant matter, something which follows as a matter of course. And in any case, what happens to the individual is in the last analysis a matter of indifference. Herein lies the lofty equanimity of the scholar, and the comic thoughtlessness of his parrot-like echo." S. Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Princeton 1968, p. 24.


A friend of mine put my mind again on Kierkegaard. Although I won't praise the lord for it, I am thankful for reading him early on in my life. He cured me of many things (one of them trying to be too serious about anything for too long) and most notably of religious group-think (and, consequently but with quite a significant delay, of all & any religious - or with more modern terms: deep, sincere, authentic - sentiment, but not of sentiment as such - see later). He also cured me of feeling compelled to what is commonly preferred sentence-wise: i.e. short sentences. And of the need to avoid starting sentences with the word "And".

So I dug in. At random, as I read Kierkegaard well before I started with this habit of dog-ear'ing (Dutch speaking visitors will maybe not recognize the term as an English translation of "ezelsoor"; dogs turn into donkeys in the area of language, no sweat) and unfortunately also before I started reading in German. I came across lots of the type of funny thing that makes somebody like me cringe in the realization that they may, after all, not be as good as they think they are at this business of writing. And I came across a section on old virgins that waited and waited for the moment just to realize when they thought they got to it that nobody was interested anymore - not in sharing it with them, that is, at least.

I laughed, then settled for the above dry 'n sober quote. Risking, in so doing, to be scaring of one or two visitors here for the atheistic joy of reading somebody that is - unashamedly - religious. Christian even, and - for him - not by co-incidence.

Oughtn't I get around to the point?

To my defense: I did get around it - which was, more or less, the point.

'Dawkins' he said and 'agnosticism'. I like Dawkins, mostly. I dislike agnosticism, all of the time (that is a bit harsh, really, but the way the former appears to understand the latter: true enough). It hit me: I hated the link between the both. 'Why that?', I thought (I'm making things simple here, so please thank me for it while I shift gear from 'banging-the-same-nail' status I got into in the last posts). Well - I will tell you why! Because the guy really should pay his dues to Kierkegaard - to the man whose first name my keyboard won't allow me to type. It's not a mere historical accident of not knowing everything that has been written. Kierkegaard's essential to anything in the field of criticizing religion, ANYTHING. Leaving him out can only be negligence, or foul play; I leave it up to Dawkins which it is, as I have not the least interest in what is on his mind. But I can imagine it is awkward to recognize that the stupidity of any proof of God's existence was demonstrated in the 1st half of the 19th century by an avowed Christian (regardless of the disproof of the provability of God).

Which brings me back to the things I was cured of by a really great Dane: scientism, or the belief that science in and of itself can be the solution ('Solution of what?', is a sufficiently à propos retort to it, by the way). It can't and I am not saying Dawkins is saying it can, but he is at least neglecting to say it can't. No - correction needed: I'll need to be prudent here as I didn't read most of what Dawkins had to say lately (as I thought he said what was to be said in his first two books). More prudently then: I, sincerely, believe that the evidence points in the direction of Dawkins (et al) making his (their) life(s) easier for themselves (in converting the converted) by neglecting a challenge which is quite to the heart of their point. If so they are as far as the critical attitude goes, far inferior to Kierkegaard who started from the opponent's angle and point of view; who started from the worst possible place, for what he thought was the intuitively correct position. Because in the end (but that's for other posts elsewhere & here) what science cannot be, the scientific spirit maybe can be, and the critical mind surely is. It's at least discomforting to give the impression to loose out on the home qualities to the away team, isn't it.

There is not enough time now or place here to go in the real detail but let me say - and one of these days I'll get the old virgins in this bed and come back to it - that: the omission (if it is there) is non-trivial also from the content point of view. It is of the type exposed by Bergson and more mathematically attacked by a Chruchland - or was it Alonzo Church?, I really have to find that paper back: in the real world and the world of real numbers, there is no straightforward transformation of facts and of matters of fact. There is a subject there that makes the relations 'dirty' - maybe in Davidson's anomalous monism case. This dirtiness needs to be faced; for if not - it will, once again, be confused for 'something' higher, deeper, more authentic, super- or supra-human .. and the misery of human inhumanity - in the name of - can start all over again.

To close: look at the end of the quote above: "parrot-like echo". It's dead on, as is clear from the above. Exaggerating in science leads not only to mysticism - and late converts - but also leads to a destruction of creativity. There is just no point in being right, right?

My only difference here with Kierkegaard is that I don't see where that's funny.

Knipogen


Whilst writing this I was listening to the jazz program on klara.be, called, aptly, "Jazz".

(but, more interestingly, whilst thinking about it I was listening to Valentin Silvestrov, The Seven Verses of Alexander Blok, by the Gryphon Trio)

21:42 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: kierkegaard, scientism, decadence, boldness, intention |  Facebook |

27-06-09

Too much pressure

"(..)

Too much pressure, my life's so hard
Too much pressure, and all them certain kind of people
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them having it easy
Too much pressure, them sail through life
Too much pressure, them have no joy
Too much pressure, them have no joy
It's too much pressure, it's too much pressure

This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
This pressure got to stop
It's got to stop, it's got to stop....

(..)"

The Selecter, downloadable from iTunes & whatever.


Well, something to kill the time (mine & yours). Still, good lyrics, great music.

Pressure has always been predominant; struggle for life and all that. Heaven & hell, & the risk of eternal damnation. But it has transformed, & is transforming, no doubt.

Let's start with the former. In times we know of history lessons, there clearly was the phenomenon of the happy few that had time on hand; in which they were tormented only by their own, to some extent at least, chosen targets. I'm not speaking here of the rich and famous, of the powerful and rich. Wealth, fame & power are the sources of pressure; pressure to achieve, to a very great extent, goals set by others, or by a general (e.g. sociological) context. I'm speaking of the happy few intellectuals which - either through favourable inheritance or through selection on a basis of intellectual or physical ability - wound up having time that - from the point of view of immediate utility in the framework of the then current society - was unaccounted for.

This was literally unchallenged time, free from challenges, un-hectic & detached. The people having it had a lot of it but there were very few people that had any of it. Not the rich, wealthy & powerful as all of them were (and are) under constant pressure to conform to the many demands of their status and the continuation of it, not only for their lifetime but also across generations (of kindred blood or spirit). Those that I've quoted here are mostly of that specific class of the happy few.

The happy irony - and proof of the unavoidability of intellectual & societal progress - is that this class of happy few (from gladiators over clergy to academics) are the by-product of numerous status quo's, numerous regimes. Necessary by-products, which are unavoidably created. Because the rich, famous & powerful needed the rewarding mechanism of inheritance to ensure their continued service to hte status quo by the promise of, at least, riches to their offsoring. Also because any regime needs some selection of the intellectually & physically best in case some external challenge is to be defended against. Once selected they will mainly be idle, since in the status quo the challenges will be exceptional. Lest you think I forgot the irony, I didn't, really - the irony is that this necessary by-product of the status quo invariably generates the ideas around which the status quo generating these 'idle' people will be overturned.

(Oh, come on: if you want your irony in one-liners - Go somewhere else!)

This diagnosis of 'idleness', or lack of pressure, is probably accurate over vast times from the first civilizations until recently. Until the first fin de siècle that was called the 'fin de siècle'. Only then (examples are Wilde, Proust - 'I have to quote Proust here, one of these weeks!') did this type of idleness become assertive; no longer constant in its defense against charges of 'decadence' but claiming decadence as: 'thé way to be'. Not that there weren't precursors, Montaigne was one and there were others, but the archetype was more that of Darwin (& there's nothing wrong with him, he just did not claim that the type of idleness he had was a good thing, in general). Anyways, it is no co-incidence that the timing of assertive idleness (and laziness) co-incides with growing industrialization & urbanization. Both these latter not only generated more & more people with some idle time; they also colluded in bringing idle people together in ways that would exponentially increase the generation of destabilizing ideas - & to the extent that modern society, modern regimes are inherently instable. In some of the more fortunate cases this instability is even guaranteed by a constitution.

This transformation has been a good thing but has not remain unchallenged - & far from it, modern history is the history of challenging the democratization of idleness. Even the mechanism of creating and sustaining idle elites has been put to work in a constant struggle against democratization of idleness. 'Conservative intellectuals', & its specific pinnacle symbol of think-tanks, have emerged & are, as of very recently, the dominant claim to intellectualism; elitist intellectualism with the unstated goal of reserving idleness for a happy few & a, sometimes even explicitly stated, framework of restraining the instability that's brought by new ideas - decadence soon became a pejorative term again.

As it proved impossible to contain the increase of free time (although, of late, this is again something that's attempted afresh - cfr. pushing up the retirement age); their struggle has been to contain the freedom, the 'idleness', of people to use free time. This is done by putting pressure on people's direct utility for society (a.o. a pressure to procure more expensive or compulsively time consuming habits during one's free time). This is also done by creating a societal context in which free time needs to be 'spent' by ever increasing demands for the free time to be supercharged with events and other trophies and symbols of it being 'well spent'.

The current balance is one in which the happy few are an unhappy many. Many of us have free time but almost none of us have it in such abundance as to allow us to be spening it idly in pursuit of our own useless, decadent goals. This has checked - & is constantly checking - the generation of new ideas, which is a pity. The fight to fight - against the consensus that the current elite has built to saveguard the prosperity of its offspring and other heirs - is the fight to claim the free time without having to be accounting for it to anyone or anything.

The fight to fight is the fight for unashamed decadence. I kid you not.

An innocent quote, a complex thought. I apologize for any incoherence. I also am a lot under a lot of pressure; & I don't have the freedom to work these things out to a satisfactory level of perfection.


Whilst writing this I was most appropriately listening to New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble, "Live in Paris" & The Selecter, "Greatest Hits".

17:28 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: learning, pop culture, decadence, optimism, competition |  Facebook |