[Thordaddy is one of our most loyal and prolific commenters. Most of the comments he has submitted have not appeared here, on account of his customary horrific abuse of English syntax, diction, and prosody. Most of them are simply incomprehensible. They have not therefore passed the threshold set by the criteria of our comments policy. Nevertheless, Thordaddy has some terrific insights, which over the course of years of earnest effort to understand him, I have at length come to appreciate. Thus, this post. All thanks to Thordaddy for his honest persistence. Now, if only he could school himself to write like a Christian …][Thordaddy: for the love of Christ, don’t get cocky: write like a Christian, for God’s sake. Your comments to this post will not otherwise see the light of day.][And, also: God bless you for your earnest loyal persistence.]
Self-hatred comes along with the vicious radical autonomy of modernism (that Thordaddy has so emphatically noticed to us all) as a package deal. If you are radically autonomous, then you alone are capable of fixing your own life, and so you are alone responsible for so doing. There is then no one to help you. You alone are alone at fault. Your fault is intrinsic, given along with your radical ontological autonomy, and therefore incorrigible – at least by you. Your fault is your own decision.
Naturally then you hate yourself for it (every man knows in his heart that he is responsible for himself; there is no escape whatever from this knowledge). But one cannot hate oneself and live; so your self-hatred is directed instead upon some Other, a wicked and as suspiciously odd therefore ostensibly blameworthy scapegoat, who works well enough as a halfway credible field for the projection of your own most despised characteristics. The scapegoat allows you to feel for a few moments – those of his holocaust – that you yourself are blameless in your predicaments; that it is all his fault, and that with his death, his ostracism or bewilderment, your faults likewise die; so that you are then free of responsibility, ergo of guilt, or shame, or blame – ritually pure and unimpeachable.
Back in April of 2016 I whinged on about the stupefying boredom of latter day public life in the West. Thanks to the extraordinary depredations of the Obama years, things seemed then inexorably locked in. The Overton Window was doomed to move ever leftward, ever more rapidly. There was not even going to be a Hegelian Mambo anymore, but just a long smooth depressing slide into oblivion, as if a morphine drip were gradually dialed upward, and the body politic fell more and more deeply comatose.
Then, in June of that year – just two months later – Donald Trump declared his candidacy, and Britain voted to leave the EU.
Men are not equal. Some are therefore rightly more authoritative, more influential, and more important than others. The law ought to recognize this reality – and it does. The question is not whether it does recognize this reality, then, but whether it does so justly.
There are two sorts of boys: those who cry wolf, and those who cry that the Emperor is naked.
The former raise all manner of false alarums for the sake of the attention they will garner. Their signals are empty, and vain; the virtue they signal a sham. They ruin the social function they were deputed to perform. And they end despised by all the people, ignored, and at last themselves eaten, devoured in the bewilderment visited upon them by the people in recompense of their falsity.
The latter speak the simple truths that no one had wanted to hear. They open people’s eyes to reality – not because they want anything for themselves, but because for whatever reason they are not afraid of what everyone else fears, or of the consequences to themselves of noticing it publicly. They are *very* impolite. They end beloved of all the people.
I leave it as an exercise for the reader, to sort our public figures into these two types.
I wrote previously about student responses in my “Writing about Literature” course to Percy Shelley’s famous sonnet “Ozymandias,” which I set them to interpret on the basis of workshops in identifying the formal and meaningful elements of poems. Last week I set the same students to write up in class an interpretation of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” (1797), a rather more challenging poem than “Ozymandias,” although Shelley proved challenge enough, but at the same time possibly easier to interpret because its phantasmagoria allows for considerable play on the part of the reader. Coleridge’s poem has its origin in a bizarre and unrepeatable incident. In September 1797 while a house guest of his friend William Wordsworth, who had taken him in because he found himself in a phase of indigence, Coleridge one morning took a dose of opium, as was his wont, and fell into a visionary trance. A major ode of some two hundred lines manifested itself to Coleridge, complete, during the psychedelic phase, and as he returned to ordinary consciousness he began to transcribe it. At that moment, one of Coleridge’s creditors came knocking loudly at Wordsworth’s door, and in the shock of hearing it, the majority of those two hundred finished lines slipped away from the poet’s grasp into oblivion. Coleridge could rescue only thirty-six lines, which constitute Part I of the poem as it was published, finally, in 1816.
The poem appears in its paradoxical truncated entirety below. –
It is easy to see that thoroughgoing skepticism devours itself. If we can’t know the truth, then we can’t know that we can’t know the truth.
Postmodernism, likewise, obviously. If all texts are tendentious, then the texts that propagate postmodernism are tendentious.
But here’s a question: do all false propositions devour themselves? Are they autophagous? I.e., is it the case that if any false proposition were true, it would under the force of some necessity or other – logical, causal, historical, etc. – be false, or meaningless?
An interesting post at Albion Awakening contrasts the doctrine of Geworfenheit with what might be called, in the broadest sense, the principle of faith. The German verb Geworfen means thrown, and Geworfenheit is therefore the state of having been thrown, or, as it is sometimes translated, cast. The word seems to have entered the philosophers’ lexicon in the work of Martin Heidegger, but the doctrine it denotes is immemorial and, no doubt, incorrigible. Continue reading →
Many of you have by now seen the official portrait of President Obama, which shows him seated not quite squarely on a chair that is partly swallowed in a wall of luxuriant vegetation. It is in many respects an odd picture, as I suppose befits an odd man. Continue reading →
René Flores is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and a notice in this morning’s mail informs me that she will deliver a lecture at this university next Tuesday evening. I’m afraid I will not be among those who will be edified by Dr. Flores, since on Tuesday evenings I either wash my hair or sort my socks. But even if I were free, I would not be tempted to take a place at Dr. Flores’ feet, because I already know the answer to the question that burns so hotly in the title of her lecture.