The Funhouse

"In Kafka, something is always not being said. What is it?" John Banville (A Different Kafka, NYRB, 2013) “The crows like to insist a single crow is enough to destroy heaven. This is incontestably true, but it says nothing about heaven, because heaven is just another way of saying: the impossibility of crows.” Franz Kafka (The Zurau Aphorisms) "He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he's not. " John Barth (Lost in the Funhouse) I noticed that Bill Maher's routine the other night was about the excesses of the government's response to the Covid pandemic (alleged). I haven't the energy or inclination to dissect Maher's routine but I … [Read more...]

Hibernating Fascism

“Late-comers and newcomers have an alarming affinity to positivism... ” Theodor Adorno (Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life ) “Fascism will despite everything get away with its victory scot-free, and, having once been shown so easy, will be continued elsewhere. The logic of history is as destructive as the people that it brings to prominence: wherever its momentum carries it, it reproduces equivalents of past calamity. Normality is death.” Theodor Adorno (Ibid) “But { Walter} Benjamin adds, ‘If the sentence is the wall before the language of the original, literalness is the arcade.’ Translation is always insufficient: it serves to emphasise the distance between languages, … [Read more...]

What It Is to Say Anything at All

" places a frame around everything; it artificially limits what sort of world of meaning we can access. It guarantees inaccessibility. The information we have isn’t the information we want; the information we want isn’t the information we need; and the information we need is impossible to get." Duncan Reyburn (The question concerning AI, Eucatastrophologist, Substack) "If, for example, an AI passes a theory of mind test in such a way as to suggest that the AI can understand people’s mental states, it is more likely that the test is not testing what the test designers think it is testing than that the AI has a theory of mind. An implicit agreement with the technological frame … [Read more...]

Comfort Food

"Plato’s Phaedrus implies that Socrates had theoretical objections to writing philosophy, since writing is always less truthful than the direct medium of speech. Socrates probably never gave official public lectures or founded a philosophical ‘school’. He seems to have imagined philosophy as something close to conversation." Emily Wilson (The Death of Socrates) “A tide of unnecessary publications is rising through our universities and libraries, it is threatening to drown real intellectual life and nobody knows how to stop it.” Noel Malcolm (Sinking in a Sea of Words, The Independent, 1998) "The liberation of an individual, as he grows up, from the authority of his parents is one … [Read more...]

Servants of Death

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” Miles Davis “Throughout the animal kingdom we find the welfare of the individual subordinated to that of the species.” Ernest Starling (Elements of Human Physiology) "In the affluent society, the authorities are hardly forced to justify their domination. They deliver the goods; they satisfy the sexual and the aggressive energy of their subjects. Like the unconscious, the destructive power of which they so successfully represent, they are this side of good and evil, and the principle of contradiction has no place in their logic. " Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civilization) "I'm mad on technology." Adolf Hitler (Table … [Read more...]

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

"The more we understand about primitive mentality, which constitutes a deep layer of advanced mentality, the harder it becomes to escape the idea that its implicit sense of and quest for irrational nondifferentiation of subject and object contains a truth of its own, granted that this other truth fits badly with our rational world view and quest for objectivity." Hans Loewald (The Waning of the Oedipus Complex) "All that culture from a thousand years ago, that philosophy, that wisdom – Plato, Aristotle, Socrates – what happened to it? It should have prevented this." Bob Dylan (Nobel Prize speech) "The aesthetic force of production is the same as that of productive labor and has … [Read more...]

The Hermit Gunslinger

"Under the two-tiered moral code of the racial contract, we have been living with one set of morals for whites and another for nonwhites (Mills 1997). However, the architects and beneficiaries of this white, racialized world also benefit from obscuring how race (the system they created) works. The epistemology of ignorance is a framework that inculcates peoples with a self-deception that makes them blind to or denies the reality of how racial hierarchy materially and epistemically shapes our world. This ignorance is not accidental, but purposeful. " Shuchen Xiang (Chinese Cosmopolitanism) "For nineteenth-century Germans, so unsure of their own Germanness, the Jewish Question was … [Read more...]

The Motorcade Drives On

"For, according to Lacan, even the word "corpse" is a euphemism in reference to the real." Friedrich Kittler (Gramaphone, Film, Typewriter) "If all goes well, I will be able to treat myself again with one or two fashion shows." Walter Benjamin (in letter to Greta Karplus {Adorno}, quoted in Philipp Ekardt's 'Benjamin on Fashion') "They want a contact with the opposite sex—or perhaps simply access to sexuality itself—which cannot be named, a contact in which they can dissolve themselves while forcibly dissolving the other sex. They want to penetrate into its life, its warmth, its blood. It seems to me that they aren't just more intemperate, dangerous, and cruel than Freud's harmless … [Read more...]