"Art is not about creating polemical alternatives; art means rather, through nothing other than its form, resisting that world-course which everyday points a gun at mankind’s chest." Theodor Adorno (Notes to Literature) "My sword should bite it. Not the dreadful spout Which shipmen do the hurricane call, Constring’d in mass by the almighty sun, Shall dizzy with more clamor Neptune’s ear, In his descent, than shall my prompted sword Falling on Diomed." Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida, Act 5 sc.2) “Freud thus introduces into the psyche what might be termed a universal of perverse difference: all human beings have a potential proclivity for crime, sex, transgression, madness, … [Read more...]

The Ugly Stick

"Kafka’s idiosyncrasy is present in each of these writings [by Zeno,Han Yu, Robert Browning, and Søren Kierkegaard], to a greater or a lesser degree, but if Kafka had not written, we would not perceive it; that is to say, it would not exist. The fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future." Jorge Luis Borges (Kafka and His Precursors) "The discontent in our culture has assumed a new quality: It appears as a universal, diffuse cynicism. " Peter Sloterdijk (Critique of Cynical Reason) “I decide who is a Jew.” Karl Lueger (Mayor of Vienna, 1897) "Fiction is history, human history, or it is nothing. But … [Read more...]

The Laugh Track without Laughter

"It is quite unimportant what we play with as long as we play, and people who cannot play, who long for unobtainable playthings instead of making a living doll from a handkerchief, are rather stupid.” Georg Groddeck (Letter to Sandor Ferenczi) "In the moment of trauma, children instinctively submit and comply with what abusers want—not just in behavior but in their perceptions, thoughts, and emotions—in order to survive the assault; afterwards they often continue to comply, out of fear that the family will turn its back on them. Notably, a persistent tendency to identify with the aggressor is also typical in children who have been emotionally abandoned by narcissistically … [Read more...]

Are You There?

“So many things happening, so many stories one inside the other, with every link hiding yet more stories … And I’ve hardly hatched from my egg,” thought an exultant Garuḍa, heading north. At last a place with no living creatures. He would stop and think things over there. “No one has taught me anything. Everything has been shown to me. It will take me all my life to begin to understand what I’ve been through. To understand, for example, what it means to say that I am made of syllables …” Roberto Calasso (Ka: Stories of the Mind and Gods of India ) "Much seems to be fixed...Perhaps it was once disputed. But perhaps, for unthinkable ages, it has belonged to the scaffolding of our … [Read more...]

Without Dream or Mercy

"The enslavement of language in prattle is joined by the enslavement of things in folly almost as its inevitable consequence. In this turning away from things, which was enslavement, the plan for the Tower of Babel came into being, and linguistic confusion with it." Walter Benjamin (On Language as Such and on the Language of Man) “Wasn’t it noticeable at the end of the war that men who returned from the battlefield had grown silent—not richer but poorer in communicable experience?” Walter Benjamin (The Storyteller, 1936) "Men are reduced to walk-on parts in a monster documentary film which has no spectators, since the least of them has his bit to do on the screen.” Theodor Adorno … [Read more...]

The Stage and the Mother

"Take at hazard one hundred children of several educated generations and one hundred uneducated children of the people and compare them in anything you please; in strength, in agility, in mind, in the ability to acquire knowledge, even in morality - and in all respects you are startled by the vast superiority on the side of the children of the uneducated." Leo Tolstoy (Education and Children, 1862) “The modern university confers the privilege of dissent on those who have been tested and classified as potential money-makers or power-holders. No one is given tax funds for the leisure in which to educate himself or the right to educate others unless at the same time he can also be certified … [Read more...]

Exorcism of Subjectivity

“This creature knows and sees that he is lodged down here, among the mire and shit of the world, bound and nailed to the deadest, most stagnant part of the universe, in the lowest storey of the building, the farthest from the vault of heaven; ” Montaigne (Essays) “Now, if you obscure what is proper to language and psychic subjectivity in the human, the path to a fascistic scientism is opened up: you claim to understand man by examining his neurons, you treat his suffering without listening to his speech, bombarding him with medications in a purely mechanical fashion. Where is the subject in this? What happens to his singularity? It is held in contempt, whisked away.” Elisabeth … [Read more...]

The Android’s Anxiety

“Art’s truth appears guaranteed more by its denial of any meaning in organized society, of which it will have no part—accomplished by its own organized absence of meaning—than by any capability of positive meaning within itself.” Theodor Adorno (Philosophy of Modern Music) "To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognised need of the human soul. It is one of the hardest to define. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations of the future." Simone Weil (The Need for Roots) "I can resist everything but … [Read more...]