The Inheritance

"Just as the capitalist system continuously produces and reproduces itself economically on higher and higher levels, the structure of reification progressively sinks more deeply, more fatefully and more definitively into the consciousness of man." Georg Lukacs (History and Class Consciousness) "The whole point is to show that human beings have lost their instincts, especially their sexual instinct and, more specifically still, their instinct to reproduce." Jean Laplanche (New Foundations of Psychoanalysis) “Sex is always political.” Gayle Rubin (Thinking Sex) “While it is indisputably true that sexuality is always being politicized, the ways in which having sex politicizes are … [Read more...]

The Sickness

"Can there be culture without melancholia? " Homi K. Bhabha (A Question of Survival) "The notion of “bad conscience” developed at the same time as the art of the portrait and accompanied the rise of both individualism and the sense of responsibility. A connection surely exists among guilt, anxiety, and creativity." Jean Delumeau (Sin and Fear) “Everything happens as if there were an original defect in man.” Henri Gouhier (The Tyranny of the Future) "...paintings in the age of the internet need to be clever far more than they need to be good." John Seed (The Disrupted Realism of the New King Charles Portrait, Hyperallergic 2024) Increasingly I feel the that the 21st century … [Read more...]

Already Dead

“If freedom is the condition of life, it cannot be employed to abolish life and so to destroy and abolish itself … suicide is in no circumstances permissible…. Moral philosophers must, therefore, first and foremost show that suicide is abominable.” Immanuel Kant (Suicide) "Nessus, [a Centaur], carries the Poets across the river of boiling blood and leaves them in the Second Round of the Seventh Circle, The Wood of the Suicides. Here are punished those who destroyed their own lives and those who destroyed their substance. The souls of the Suicides are encased in thorny trees whose leaves are eaten by the odious Harpies, the overseers of the damned. " Dante (Canto 13, Inferno {Ciardi … [Read more...]

Deep Fake

“Although the frightful is, perhaps rightly, conjoined in our minds with the darkly coloured, the harshly dissonant - with bludgeon blows and the odours of decay - the most terrible experiences are often bereft of these properties of melodrama.” John Franklin Bardin (The Last of Philip Banter) "There isn’t the slightest operation, the slightest industrial or financial mechanism that does not reveal the dementia of the capitalist machine and the pathological character of its rationality {not at all a false rationality, but a true rationality of this pathology, of this madness, for the machine does work, be sure of it}." Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari ( Chaosophy: Capitalism; A Very … [Read more...]

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...]