“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On Recognition

“Given that the thymos that has been conditioned by civilization is the psychological location of what Hegel depicted as a striving for recognition, it becomes clear why the lack of recognition by relevant others excites rage. If one demands recognition from a specific opponent, one stages a moral test. If the other who is addressed rejects this test, she needs to deal with the rage of the challenger, who feels disrespected. Rage occurs first when the recognition from the other is denied (which leads to extroverted rage). However, rage also flourishes if I deny recognition to myself in light of my value ideas (so that I have reason to be angry with myself). According to Stoic philosophy, which situated the struggle for recognition fully inside the human psyche, the wise person is supposed to be satisfied with self-respect, first, because the individual in no way has control of the judgment of the other and, second, because she who is knowledgeable will strive to keep herself free from all that does not depend on herself.
Usually the thymotic impulse is connected to the wish to find one's self-worth resonating in the other. This desire could easily be an instruction manual for teaching oneself to become unhappy, one with a universal success rate if it were not for those dispersed cases of successful mutual recognition. Lacan probably said what is necessary concerning the profound idea that there is a grounding mirroring process, even though his models, probably unjustly, situate early infantile conditions at the center of investigation. In reality, life in front of the mirror is more of a children's disease. But among adults the striving for reflection in the recognition of others often means the attempt to take possession of a will-o'-the-wisp—in philosophical jargon: to instantiate oneself in what is insubstantial."
                                                          --Peter Sloterdijk, Rage and Time

Friday, August 5, 2011

Book Review: The Land at the End of the World

The Land at the End of the World
By Antonio Lobo Antunnes
W. W. Norton

The Land at the End of the World is a new translation of the second novel by António Lobo Antunes, generally regarded as Portugal’s most important living novelist. Published in his native country as Os Cus de Judas in 1979, this is a key book in Antunes’s oeuvre, for the simple reason that it describes his own autobiographical experience as a medic during Portugal’s war with Angola in the early 1970s; the evocations of the unimaginable brutality that Antunes witnessed in that conflict help explain the notorious pessimism and darkness of his later works, such as Acts of the Damned (1985). Read More over at Readings' Website...