Cynicism in the 90s and today

In Saul Bellow’s novel, Seize the Day, the protagonist Tommy Wilhelm remarked that “cynicism was bread and meat to everyone. And irony too. Maybe it couldn’t be helped.” Irony became entrenched in the fifties, where the American economy flourished under the shadow of a potential nuclear war. Once the Cold War and the economic boom ended, the national self-definition was subverted until irony became the cultural currency. While irony served a valuable purpose in the works of great American writers like Barth, Coover, Burroughs, Nabokov and Pynchon, the commercial culture of the US filtered that into the national aesthetic as postmodern irony, resulting in David Letterman, The Simpsons, and rap, among other things. Continue reading Cynicism in the 90s and today

Battle of the Giants of Cynical Reason

In this matchup, we have two still breathing Giants of European intelligentsia, who agree that ideology must be the critique of cynicism. However, but of course, like every other philosopher in the history of thought, they disagree on everything else. Continue reading Battle of the Giants of Cynical Reason

Genealogy of Cynicism

American Cynicism, acrylic on canvas 24 x 36
“American Cynicism”, acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 36″

 

This blog will illustrate a nonlinear trajectory of the “cynic” from antiquity to the present that relies on the historiographer Mark Phillips‘ conception of “reframing,” a master metaphor for historical change that demonstrated cultural transmission as a technique of using and making. Continue reading Genealogy of Cynicism

Tracing Cynical Reason in 20th Century America

In this blog I trace cynical reason of 20th century American history as a phenomenon in two aspects: in the sphere of economics and in the sphere of cultural arts. Instead of complaining about the so-called poverty of contemporary politics or whining about the decline of contemporary morality, I insist on cynical reason as a dominant sentiment of the post-Fordist capitalist existence. In this respect, cynical reason extends further than the emotional or psychological response to the contemporary existence, and closer to a sociological analysis. Continue reading Tracing Cynical Reason in 20th Century America

Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

tweet

However, this proverb is far more profound than its attempt at cleverness. All three are actually interrelated and two of them are the dominant aspects of our modern times. The cynic is the average person, having become enlightened, but since none of her traditional beliefs or values are reliable, she sinks in a reflexive false consciousness. The fanatic is the reactionary who, in rejecting the secular wisdom of the Enlightenment, inadvertently recreates a secular version of his traditional beliefs or practices in fundamentalism. As for the troll? She merely avoids the pitfalls of either dead end by transcending the modern times in her utilization of cheeky humor and avoids the sin of seriousness in mocking either caricature. Continue reading Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

The Hipster and Cynical Reason

hipster-glasses21

Smoke clove cigarettes? Wear ironic trucker hats? Skinny jeans? Horn-rimmed glasses with bug-eyed lenses? Graduated with a liberal arts major? Carry a shoulder-strap messenger bag? Soi disant exceptionally cultured, with at least one pop vice? Have at least one Republican friend, and describe him/her as your “one Republican friend?” Unwashed hair, but position said head on pillow at night to maximize cowlick? Yes, you’re a hipster. Continue reading The Hipster and Cynical Reason

Pantheon and Christ

I have been thinking about the best or most appropriate way to tackle the relationship between Christ and the gods of Pantheon, and recently I came across a potential approach in Sloterdijk’s “Cabinet of Cynics” chapter from Critique of Cynical Reason where he goes through the five embodiment of cynicism through history. The first suspect is none other than Diogenes, who embodied the low theory version in his decided opposition to the all-too serious discourse of Socrates & Plato. Kynicism was based on the animal nature of man, where the gestures of the body were framed as arguments (farting or shitting or whacking off in public). In other words Diogenes poked fun at his grave opponents, but instead of talking against such idealism, he lived in opposition in an anti-theoretical, anti-dogmatic and anti-scholastic way. Continue reading Pantheon and Christ

On reviving the carcass of philosophy

The following are collected tweets (@thanatology) I’ve made in the past month about posthumanism, or reviving the carrion of philosophy:

Once the window to a frozen thanatosphere opens, thought becomes razor sharp enough to slice through the rotting corpse of anthropocentrism.


And the slimy pus of the absolute seeps out and clot into new-old ideas: a heretical Derrideanism that continually savages itself

 is a decadent form of post-Socratic felo-de-se that faces biological contingency w its own blind eyes a Corpse w/o Organs?

Freed from miserly enforcement of rule-bound metaphysical dilemmas, we are stoned by the fumes rising from a chaotic sea of virtualities.

Cynically supercharged w obscene desire for death, we, slaves to cruel directives of base materialism, bottom out in a dark zone of thought — once we see thru the deceptions of life Ego owns up to its pathology, embarrassed with its Macbeth dagger that drips the Earth’s black blood. 

Agitprops of phenomenology, in resurrecting consciousness, merely plunge themselves deeper into the quicksand of their coprophilic narcissism.

Today’s thinkers are mere maggots feeding on the carcass of Brobdingnagians, whose feces will join the deep undercurrent of chthonic thought. 

Crawling out from the bubbling orifice of its decomposing tomb, posthuman thought performs an autophagous Aufhebung as  cannibalism.

A perverse slave of its own meaninglessness, Posthuman Thought gnaws at the root of the Yggdrasil of its own fatuous jurisdiction.

Today our amputated Reason continues to goose-step around calcifying totems of half-baked ideologies, either out of perversity or mockery. 
Vaguely, the subject will re-cohere in the void pried open by the expulsion of Nature out of its hearth, due to revitalized post-idealism.After sprinkling black salt on the wounds of theology, sliced by universal contingency, thought painfully realizes the anorexia of meaning.

Posthuman thought adjusts its peripatetic trail among the gravestones of exhausted theologies in the misty light of the Polaris of nihilism.

Bizarre avatars will usher in new techniques of thought, sporadically evolving fetid rhizomes & decaying yet again in a farcical cycle.Inciting catastrophic predictions, opening a space for self-destructive ideological scrutiny & directing thanatocratic methods, philosophy ends up as a mere choreography of furious, demented & recurring political sequences.

Philosophy of the Gods, part II

(For part one, go here)

ELDER GODS

Mamacocha and Isis, by Awet Moges

Their immortal hearts have been seared and hardened by an insurmountable evil that makes them immune to all fantasies & hallucinations of gods who still believe in ideals. Elder gods reject Cartaphilus, that dangerous prophet, and the most audacious thinker of delirious times.

The elder gods are typically radical skeptics & lovers of doubt. Instead of an impetuous glorification of life, these elders have a disillusioned outlook that considers themselves to be superior skeptics and exorcists of all certainty & conviction. Their observations are fueled with the abysmal mechanisms of doubt – an antiseptic that pacifies the spirit and detaches it from any vital stakes. Continue reading Philosophy of the Gods, part II

You don’t have to be a cynic

Diogenes, by John William Waterhouse
Diogenes, by John William Waterhouse

Becoming a cynic is not an indication of a failure of character, or an anomalous individual event in today’s culture, for it is actually symptomatic of modern culture. Cynicism is essentially the result of the Enlightenment, which spelled the end of Christian dogma by destroying its ideals, absolutes, truths. As the Enlightenment progressed in its demystification of ideals, nihilism emerged form its wake. But one ideal was spared: the subject, which grounded all critiques and including positive ideas like Kantian ethics.

Prior to the Enlightenment, Christian metaphysics was true (i.e., the bible holds truths, the word of God, etc.). But the Enlightenment brought to the end to all that with critiques that decimated these aforementioned absolute truths. However, where the enlightenment has been a “melancholy science” (pace Adorno) it only exacerbates melancholy. We need something that doesn’t depress us and sinks us into cynical reasoning. We need a new critique that’s also a gay science, as opposed to the sad sciences of the enlightenment that took away all the ideals we used to believe in. Sure, this critique is also an attack, but it holds an attitude against making people miserable or depressed. Continue reading You don’t have to be a cynic