facebook conversations / fragments

[This post would not be possible without the help of “CUT” and “PASTE.”]

This first conversation was started when I posted a link to an article by Sara Ahmed.

AJRC: hegemonic position is that ‘lib. multiculturalism is the hegemony’. let us take that one step further into ‘hegemonic position is thinking that hegemonic position is: lib. multiculturalism is the hegemony.

that is what i see as the major flaw of what that sara was writing.
literally she was feeling hurt at zizek’s idea and her whole response looks as:
i know you are but what am i!

CHARM: For sure. The conclusion of her response is wrong, but she does bring up the deadlock of liberal anti-racism via prohibition. Racists as a group who need their right to expression & free speech protected!

AJRC: we should look at it lacanianly (i think this is the 1st time anyone has used ‘lacanianly’) and state that every fight against racism is just as bad as racism, because it further promotes the word ‘racism’ itself.

i meant every verbal fight against racism.
and are you sure that free speech is a thing worth protecting? i really do not know if it is or it isn’t.

CHARM: Free speech, from the position of liberalism, is “worth” protecting…however, if free speech means protection of absurd uses of serious rights (like free speech), then the coordinates of this right need dramatic and radical alteration. The challenge is how to free speech from speech; or in other words, can we distinguish between the speech that is meaningful (even if offensive) and speech that is inherently empty (the so-called “phatic” function of speech)? Although the empty gesture of speech does serve an important social function, too much empty speech diminishes the overall presence of meaning in language; the distinguishing feature of meaning is that not everything has it. Precisely the problem today: everything makes claims to meaning (i.e. advertising), and anything that could be meaningful (e.g. art, literature, etc.) shamelessly proclaims its meaninglessness (e.g. modern fiction, mainstream cinema, etc.), when it is, in fact, already worthless.

This next conversation was prompted after I posted this: “Jazz listeners are the castrati who experience their own mutilation as an aesthetic pleasure. The ‘whimpering’ vibrato or ‘eunichlike sound’ of the jazz singer croons the comforts of impotence – stepping out only so as to step back in line – expressing only the ‘premature and incomplete orgasm’ which keeps on cheating you of the real thing.” _Adorno’s Siren Song_

AJRC: why? did that man ever said x, any x is good?
i’ll begin to suspect that all he ever spoke of was lack of phallus, in lacanian sense.
and only in that sense do i take him seriously.
prove me wrong, if you can

CHARM: although i’m really not interested in debating this with you, i’ll say that adorno’s ideas, while not always my cup of tea, are important. especially his thoughts on “the culture industry” and negative dialectix: he is one of the most prominent marxists, as jürgen habermas will attest to. not only a marxist, but a pretentious obscurantist philosopher, as we all are, or we all wish to be. lacan not excluded from this label.

you should try to see the good in things more often. really: critical negativity produces nothing. in a sea of goodness, this kind of critic finds one flaw and turns it into hell.

and, finally, this is from an essay by comay which is a critique of adorno via the sirens’ from ulysses. though her critique does border on admiration at times, it is easy to see why: she is a hegel specialist after all. her argument, in a nutshell is that adorno, like ulysses, could only resist the temptation of the siren song of modernity by engaging in a pseudo-bondage intellectualism. it is a decent essay.

plus “prove me wrong” isn’t something i can do because you have decided to hate adorno. its like trying to convince a racist that he’s wrong. if it were a matter of fashion, however, like wearing a hideous hat – you might be convinced. but its not.

AJRC: i’ve decided to observe adorno’s work as referring to a much smaller set than he thought he was referring to. i’ve also decided to dislike him, because he represents a move away from dial. mat., because he represents something that today’s academia adores too much without adequate counterpoint (counterpoint to adorno’s philosophy), i do not hate him.

then you speak of ‘pseudo-bondage intellectualism’. i’d go for kant, rather than hegel in referring to adorno. and the fact that kant’s konningsburg is today kalilingrad, then filled with germans, now ethnically cleansed and russian. when a culture produces that level of obsessiveness that kant had had, that is a perfect target for fascist ideas, as in: those evil-others create that type of personality that cannot even associate with us. once characters like kant start appearing in society, other societies observe that characters like kant – precisely because they adhere more to morality than to fun, are not where society in general is headed and those characters like kant result in counteraction in neighboring societies by creating proto-fascist groups.
another fitting thing here is all the story that zizek spoke of that ship where lenininsts have expelled current tzarist inteligentsia after the revolution, and the tzarist inteligentsia writing that they never found out what have they done.
what have they done? they have succeeded and, once their revolution was established power, they allowed for no other revolutions.

by labeling onself in such a fashion, adoring adorno, discourse at the university today suffers from a lack of capacity to recognize fascist ideas, it recognises only ideas of support, never the ideas of change.
i would like to live in a world where such admiration that you say comay gives to adorno is much more criticaly observed.
and i do hate the university fashion of ‘adorno is perfection’.

CHARM: OK. just so we’re clear, you don’t like the way adorno is received in the academy, no? i must say that no author can help the way he is read.

just out of curiosity, how much adorno have you read? how much frankfurt school in general?

are you saying that kant / adorno are fascists or that they (unconsciously?) gave rise to fascist movements? i really don’t understand the comparison … ? why not label all of german idealism fascist then? again, no author can help the way he or she is read or received.

the admiration comay gives to adorno is not without reservations. she is one of the brightest professors at the UofT, so praise from her is not cheap nor is it one-sided: she does deliver a very sharp critique of adorno’s views on music and the culture industry while at the same time offering a novel reading of ulysses encounter with the sirens. several essays by her are available on JSTOR; she writes on everything from benjamin, bataille, to memory and heidegger, to the french revolution, and the problems with the modern archive. suffice it to say, adorno is one topic among many she has an interest in. if you like the conversation of intelligent women, i would recommend you audit her continental philosophy lecture and speak to her after it.

related to seeing the good in things: we should be more like the ones who are enmeshed in trite vulgarities yet are able to find one good thing that trumps all the bad previously experienced.

on a side-note, morality is one of the forms that fun can take; it is currently being marketed as a new brand of “transgression.” aside from this though, there is no fun without morality (lacan). this is not necessarily fascist … is it?

AJRC: i hate the way adorno is received in the academy, not just dislike. and it is the old school marxist in me that says so. i see nothing that adorno ever did as a promotion of marxism, and i do see most as having anti-marxist effects.
the only thing i read by him is ‘adorno reader’. selections of major stuff. i really tried to read other stuff, while ‘pages’ was open, in the store, but i found myself just being on the defense while reading him, saying in my head to most: no, that is not the way/how things are/…
and that – keeping one single stance, ‘on defence’, was what made me reject him.

i do say that kant/adorno and many others like that, rising as phenomenon by itself, does unconsciously give a rise to maybe not fascism precisely, but certainly something very closely related to it.
and the german idealism was born out of closing of the border france-germany (all the french nobility can trace its roots in german noblity), thus it did have an idea of united-france-and-germany to begin with, and that beginning is a recreation of a particular race.
philosophy without its historical context is meaningless.
it is only in particular times (like the time before the 1st crusade, or the clinton era in 20th century) that philosphy actually is able to perceive beyond borders of the country it gets born in. (i do believe that frankfurt school is simply inaplicable if you go geographically too far away from frankfurt way of thinking, example: it’d never work in either alberta or bc and only partially in toronto.)
what i was telling you about europe: coagulations around either berlin or moscow. today, written and accepted coagulation is around berlin, but, what zizek calls ‘unspoken laws’ falls under moscow jurisdiction (way of thinking about unspoken, way of doing shady business, way of doing anything shady is referred to in russian forms). before the fall of berlin wall, it was the opposite.
frankfurt school disregards this, or at least, i did not find enough within frankfurt school to talk about unspoken and shady business as something relevant in philosophical, moral and fun terms – and i do think it is extremely relevant!
i am not that into frankfurt school. as max weber stated, in response to marx, he said, ok, german worker needs all the knowledge you offer, but take an italian worker. by definition, an italian will be lazier, he will have much less of chains (of bourgeois oppression) to cast off.
that is how i see that rise of frankfurt school, it casts very little shade on me.

the rest that you’re saying, i can dig, i can get, i’m cool with.
you wanna go and audit comay’s class together sometime?

CHARM: your “defensive” reading strategy is what makes “prove me wrong” impossible. its not that you can’t be proven wrong, its that you don’t want to be. this is all OK, except when you ask me to “prove you wrong, if i can.”

i think that historical context is important, but it isn’t the determining factor of a philosopher’s relevance. zizek himself says that, of course, all philosophers were enmeshed in a particular social fabric at the time. the real question is how certain writers (freud, marx, darwin, etc.) were able to “break out” of their historical determination and speak beyond history as it were.

i’ll probably be too busy to attend comay’s lecture, which is really too bad. apparently she also does a graduate seminar which a select few literary studies students are allowed to attend.

AJRC: ok, the ‘prove me wrong’ might have been too much.
i do not believe that any of them have been able to ‘break out’ of their historical context.

CHARM: nor do i. read closer: what i said is that, despite socio-historical determination, they manage to touch and articulate something universal (e.g. freud: unconscious; marx: ideology …).
perhaps adorno did / did not do this, i don’t consider it important enough to judge whether or not it is true of him.

hey man, don’t worry about it! its simply a matter of “i don’t like him / it.” because you really haven’t provided anything specific regarding adorno except that you don’t like the way the academy has received him and that his writing “simply isn’t the way things are,” to you. for myself: i simply take what i do like and leave the rest for someone to explain to me its merit; whether or not things “really are like that” — i don’t pretend to have any special insight into. they are certainly not as abstract as he often makes things out to be …


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