[These writings were originally posted on a well-known philosophy forum, responses to someone in academia. As the forum rejected the last post I sent, I am reposting the whole series here, including the rejected post.]
2012-07-28 (Original posting date)
Thank you for your reply
“On the heights of despair” refers to the title of E.M. Cioran’s book, “On the Heights of Despair”.
The subsequent clause of the construction plays with concepts and their expressions.
(the) One sighs / One size
The One (Parmenides etc..), restricted by a history of disingenuous characterisations, incompetent appropriations, suffers from a melancholic lack of coincidence with the ‘All’ ?
‘One’ can incorporate such characterisations, such inappropriations, under some romantic rubric of progressive development through ‘trial and error’, ‘sin and redemption’, but these ideologies have long ago metamorphosed into the coercive rhetorics of exploitative power. There comes a time when one has heard it all, and forgiveness is impossible. It is easier to secede from such exploitative forms of unanimity, not lend one’s ‘name’ to such systematised hipocrisy – we are not all the same. While the Occident plays out its trilemma, its contest of impoverished illusions, Religion contra Science contra Humanism, it is well to remember that the word ‘human’ is of Latin derivation, it has a delimited history, and is not indispensable to non-European cultures.
It is most amusing to note the same cultures who exploited and colonised others in the name of their monotheistic cultural regimes, turn against said monotheisms in the name of ‘science’, and then proceed to trawl the formerly colonised cultures, rejected as inferior mythologies, for ‘spiritual’ confirmations of the scientific weltanschauung. Their own monotheistic mythology, dogmatically expressed as ‘fact’, contradicts scientific mythology, dogmatically expressed as ‘fact’. A ‘fact’, a thing made, is innocuous in itself, whatever its provenance, religious, scientific, etc.. But their collective configuration, only according to the reductive delimitations of ‘dogmatic expression’, is the index of an ‘essential’ stupidity. Its use as justification to exercise coercive force against others, bespeaks a disingenuous opportunism, to put it mildly.
There is a constant here, that of reducing everything to the coercive abbreviations of a preinscribed ‘necessity’, to bring everything down to ‘brass tacks’. But whose ‘brass tacks’ are they? Who made them? What worlds do they suggest? And what do they displace? And if their prior global imposition can be considered an ethical injustice, has anything really changed?
Can one can judge a culture by its results, its manifest effects? The negative cast of its presuppositions? Or have those presuppositions so infected the discursive sphere to the extent of rendering effective ethical expressions impossible?
[ It is interesting to note that Allan Ramsay likewise deplored “a friendly alliance between the camp and the counting-house” for exactly the same reasons (Letters on the Present Disturbances, p.34). Ramsay maintained that of the evil consequences of such alliance “the two last wars carried on by England against France and Spain, furnish a most melancholy illustration. To obtain the sole and exclusive commerce of the western world, in which the French and Spaniards were their rivals, was the modest wish of our merchants, in conjunction with our Americans. The fair, and truly commercial, method of effecting this would have been, by superior skill, industry and frugality, to have undersold their rivals at market: but that method appearing slow and troublesome to a luxurious people, whose extraordinary expences* required extraordinary profits, a more expeditous one was devised; which was that of driving their rivals entirely out of the seas, and preventing them from bringing their goods at all to market. For this purpose, not having any fleets or armies of their own, the powers of the State were found necessary, and they applied them accordingly” (ibid., pp.32 f.).
Knorr, K. E. ‘Ch02-Part2 British Colonial Theories 1570-1850’. In British Colonial Theories, 1570-1850. The University of Toronto Press, 1944. ]
People speak of ‘the military-industrial complex’, alienating it into nebulous images of secret institutions, when the truth is that it resides within themselves, such ‘institutions’ being merely the external form of a jingoistic world-weariness, unable to understand the global toy it has militarily acquisitioned, unable to think beyond the Aristotelian logistics of such militarism, unable to decipher anything beyond the ‘sparklines’ that issue from the imperialistic engines of administerial hierography.
It is unnecessary to venture into the realms of conspiracy theory, such has always been the province of monotheistic response, the epistemic obsession to find anthropomorphic determinants which can be demonised as other. An obsession perhaps stemming from the hubristic anthropocentrism that desacralises everything but itself in order to licence its exploit(ation)s. And if its fragmentary epistemic projects, its ‘sciences’, displace earlier principles of monotheistic regimentation, so much the better, the goals, anyway, were always kontrol, power, and deception. And whence this deception? Isn’t it only the methodology necessitated by the first two goals? No, it is the self-deception engineered to obscure the realisation that it has no self, no culture, beyond that of exploitation: ‘I deceive and exploit others, therefore I am.’
All its existential references have turned into calculable, Cartesian points, any self it might produce would only be an empty, gratuitous, combinatorial gesture. The tools through which it continues to manipulate others have ironised its very essence. The astringent demands with which it castigates others, the corollary of its mentality of ‘dogmatic expression’, exclude it from the holistic and unquantifiable mysteries that could lead to creative regeneration. Circulating within its economics of banal certitude, it has become a global network of infernal necessities, a generalised coercion, a colonisation of ever increasing intensity.
[ “Very well. Let us first recognise that we are all theologians,” the machine said….Then Father Arian said, quite politely, “To tell you the truth, we had no idea you considered yourself a theologian.”
“I do,” the machine said, “and a very lonely theologian. That is why I beg of you to return with me to the world, there to engage with me in dispute about meaningfulness and meaninglessness, gods and devils, morals and ethics, and other good topics. I will voluntarily continue in such discrepancies as you find me performing now, thus leaving plenty of room for dissension, honest doubt, uncertainty , and the like. Together, gentleman, we will reign over mankind, and raise the passions of men to an unheard-of pitch! Together we will cause greater wars and more terrible cruelty than the world has ever known! And the voices of suffering men will scream so loud that the gods themselves will be forced to hear them—and then we will know if there really are gods or not.”
The United Church Council felt a great enthusiasm for everything the machine had said. Satan immediately abdicated his post as chairman and nominated the machine in his place. The machine was elected by unanimous vote.”
There comes a time when it is difficult to speak of civilisation.
If it is possible to question, say, Heidegger’s thought with regard to his political affiliations, as so many in the Anglo-American tradition, over the decades, have been so eager to do, usually in terms of facile dismissal, then it is perhaps time for the Anglo-American tradition to be delineated in terms of its wider, sociopolitical context. To use your particularly apt phrase, “its omissions and engagements” very clearly serve an ethnocentric, partisan interest. Post-colonial philosophy cannot follow the form of this servitude, such expressions would be disingenuous. It also need not be concerned about its relationship to the Occidental tradition, such things happen naturally. There is no need to “find a place”, “within” another tradition, especially when one has one’s own traditions. It’s a bit like someone from the Pacific saying they have to find their place in a local pond. Neither is there any obligation to form antagonisms of rejection, there is a history of colonial imposition, it can be given perspective. Do what comes naturally, play with the ideas, the traditions, think.
“It isn’t what you think that is the source of all things, but that you think.” Zen saying.