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. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
Posts Tagged ‘cynicism’
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.
Posthuman thought adjusts its peripatetic trail among the gravestones of exhausted theologies in the misty light of the Polaris of nihilism.
(For part one, go here)
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. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
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. ↓ Read the rest of this entry…
The typically suspicious claims of the cynic or conspiracy theorist only expose his rotten perspective of human nature. I was once told that even the act of thanks is suspect, for all gratitude is conditioned propaganda. If that is the case then nobody deserves thanks, because merit is impossible to determine, given the ugly taint of self-serving motives. It depends whether being publicly grateful is suspect because all praise is necessarily suspect.
I agree with the Duke (La Rochefoucauld) that it is by the estimation of our feelings that we exaggerate the good qualities of others than by their merit and when we praise them we wish to attract their praise. Most people are shallow enough to be accused of secretly hoping for further favors in their gratitude. But this in no way means all gratitude is necessarily self-serving praise. This greatly underestimates certain individuals who may be magnaminous enough to appreciate a direct challenge to their thoughts, more so than mere confirmation of their convictions.
If I had a low opinion of people in general, then some of the charges of propaganda would stick. Then again…
[gratitude] may be not only the greatest of all virtues it is also their mother. – Cicero
The essence of all great art is gratitude – Nietzsche
We may never praise without a motive, for praise is flattery that gratifies differently him who praises and he who is praised. The one who takes it as the reward for merit and the other who bestows it to show his impartiality and knowledge.
That is true but gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep. – Frankfurter
The proud man is hardly a great man for thinks he never gets as much he deserves, but the Buddha says none of us have cause for anything except gratitude and joy. If criticism has survived far more insidious oppression elsewhere, then it can withstand even the horrors of praise, especially when it is in the form of gratitude.
Dontcha hate it whenever you present your thoughts with airtight reasoning or impeccable proof that something is or ought to be the case, the reason why something is going on or the reason why things must change, and then your meticulous demonstration is damned with the faint praise that it is merely just “yer opinion?”
Yes, it just happened.
A rather fine handwave, a pooh pooh, a scoff that dismisses the validity of your conclusions. It also alludes that your opinion is just as good as anyone else’s, and no better, despite the tools of logic or evidence, because knowledge is now subjective goo. Relativist shit like that implies that there are only opinions, or everything is a matter of opinion and there’s no way to judge between them. The reduction of all discourse to a level playing field also reduces knowledge, or true justified beliefs, to a smorgasboard of opinions that individuals can pick and choose from, according to their personal desires/biased beliefs/ignorance.
When it comes to opinions, democracy is the best method, but when it comes to knowledge, democracy is a liability that equalizes everything, for the knowledge of expert has little to nothing to do with the popular opinion of the general populace.
Unfortunately certain deafiez (as well as other intellectually lazy people) are prone to use this sort of strategy whenever they are confronted with an alternative to their convictions and one that is doubly potent and persuasive. Since the lazy person do not want to discuss the actual reasons (or lack of) behind his own convictions, he choose to assuage his intellectual pride by pulling the relativist card. But when that happens to me, I grow irritated at how I’ve wasted my energy and time with this tedious and facile relativist – he who is more than likely too scared or too embarrassed to even bother taking the discussion anywhere except have the last word with typical conversation stoppers – and inevitably, I grow disappointed with such pervasive sophistry among the general public.
There’s a big difference between knowledge and opinions. The truth of knowledge does not depend on the person, because they are objective, which means others can arrive at the same conclusions independently, and they are public. Knowledge must be justified independently of the original person who conceived of that particular concept. Whereas the truth of opinions are private and they depend on the person, since they are subjective, dependent on passions, tastes, inclinations, or desires that vary from individual to individual. An opinion need not be justified by any stretch of the imagination. The reason why somebody likes a certain thing is not amenable to rational standards.
Why do I prefer Seire R cigars?
True knowledge comes from history, from authority, from the experts and from the practitioners. Anybody can form an opinion about something without ever experiencing it, studying it, or observing it. An opinion is something easily arrived at, but knowledge takes years of practice, years of study or training. One is easily gained or dropped, the other is difficult and worth keeping.
Opinions are like assholes, cuz everybody’s got one, but very few actually do know something.
“…keeps the suspense mounting and the pages turning..”
“…delicious witty and gossipy…”
Alas – any of these blurbs still would sell this novel short, for it has all the virtues of your garden variety bestseller du jour – gripping plot, memorable characters, unconventional ending – and far more.
Simply put, Les Liaisons Dangereuses raised the bar of the epistolary novel so high it no longer exists. The subtitle, “Letters gathered in a Society” indicates a collection of the correspondence has been arranged by a “fictional” editor. The distinctive styles and view presented in each letter creates a polyphonic effect, where the reader is always better informed about the relevant situation than the authors of the letters themselves. The authors are not merely reporting events, they write in order to present themselves the way they intend to appear to their correspondents.
The nature of the composition of the novel has disposed of the “normative position” of the author, Choderlos de Laclos and preempted the moral imperative. The absence of a narrator or an authoritative narrative voice makes it impossible to locate the intentions of the author. As a result, moral ambiguity is the book’s greatest charm. Its depiction of the base motives of the aristocracy was shocking, controversial and scandalous, for its authenticity in certain spots implied it was a roman a clef. The first edition sold out within days, nonetheless.
The Marquise de Merteil and Vicomte de Valmont are two letter writers who shrewdly and ruthlessly play a game where seduction is the name; psychological methods, the rules; erotic pleasure, the prize. They are the dangerous liaisons of the painfully naïve young girl, Cecile Volanges. She and the other authors, the Chevalier de Chanceny, Presidente del Tourvel, and Madam Volanges are pawns in the game of seduction. The twist is that the game backfires on the puppeteers of the drama and everyone else.
I thought the sweetest morsels were the scattered psychological insights: on people in general, the distinction between men and women and their socially appropriate relations to pleasure, the incompatibility between vanity and love. They painted a clever and cynical portrait of human nature, challenging the pretensions of society, the resonant echo of the maxims of the moralist La Rochefoucauld.
Some readers have proposed tragedy as the appropriate category for Les Liaisons, where fate is exceedingly brutal to the protagonists and shatters all possibility of redemption of life. In classic tragedies, the protagonist(s) are virtuous, yet that makes no difference as they are destroyed by external forces or by themselves. Both Marquise de Merteil and the Valmont are exceedingly vain, and this is their virtue of excellence as well as their fatal flaw. “Strong swimmers always drown.” Because of the way novel depicts human society as something permanent, there are no apocalyptic overtones. The tragic end of the characters are somewhat absolved when society continues on, surviving their destruction. It could be argued that the excessive portrayal of the vain aristocrats was a condemnation of the aristocracy itself, which was thoroughly corrupt to the bone, a decadent society in its death throes where the Revolution was right around the corner.
During my college career I have had to struggle against a stereotype about deaf people in general, fight against the common assumptions about a group of disabled people and constantly prove myself capable by shattering unfair but understandable generalizations. After blazing a trial in my own limited time (by breaking the prejudices of others) it did became tiresome and repetitive, exceedingly redundant that I have nothing to fight but the extremely low expectations and that whatever I do already clears the embarrasingly low bar is simply taken as brilliant, impressive, wonderful, amazing, or [insert any superlative here]. This is not a cry for a universal standard, fairness, but that the concept of low expectations does result in low results. It is somewhat a self-defeating prophecy, if you look at the results without any preconceived notions.
The unexamined prejudice, or stereotype I am talking about is that because of common connotations about the disability, a deaf person should not be able to articulate speech consistently well, even write eloquently in English, and/or specialize in non-visual training (i.e. abstract studies such as that of mathematics or philosophy).
The first stereotype is not too much of a problem. Once I open my mouth and ask for something in the public arena, say, ordering food, sometimes I’m taken for a hearing person pretending to be deaf in order to get away with things. Other times incredulity is written allover their faces that a deaf person can speak at all is embarrasing to the degree that those preconceived notions are just exactly what we all are guilty of when we meet the strange or the rare, or the different, those of unlike bent – whatever it is, disability, cultural differences, or social classes – whichever we have limited experience of we unfairly make quick judgments and assessments that are actually a short cut for true knowledge and understanding. Is it human nature to make shortcuts with stereotypes so we don’t have to waste time in the future?
The second stereotype is even more troubling, because my major requires that I write a lot of papers, essays, summations, reports, analyses, critiques, and etcetera. I remember my first semester at the local college, I was enrolled in a course on Folklore & Mythology. During lecture I had been constantly keeping my arm up and answering the posed questions or adding extra information, but alas! That was not sufficient grounds to keep the professor from doubting the true authorship of my papers. He even had the audacity to ask whether I did write my essay! At first I wasn’t too worried because I assumed that the professor was concerned about the quoted material or sources I had worked with. But it slowly dawned upon me that he was laboring with assumptions that I could not have written that paper precisely because of my disability. Not that he came out and said it, for he was too smart to paint himself in a corner like that. My interpreter found this so insulting that during the interrogation she broke down and cried like a baby. The professor defended his charges by saying that in 35 years of teaching he had never came across a paper that technical, so he had grounds to doubt the abilities of a lowly freshman. More similar incidents followed, until I built a reputation of producing well-written papers in the philosophy department was I able to dispell that sort of low expectations. About time!
To this day I keep surprising people on the internet with the admittance that I am hearing impaired. Sometimes I can interpret that as a compliment. For example there is this intelligent, talented thinker who frequents over at darwinawards.org I have had the courtesy of befriending. After I informed him of my disability, he exclaimed that he would have never guessed! Sort of nice, but at the same time, also, damning.
The third stereotype is the choice of major- since the most common major for the deaf student at schools like Gallaudet, NTID, or CSUN is ‘deaf studies,’ it stands to reason that there are exceptions who do not fall into any homogenized categories. However, the assumption that a deaf person is exceeding expectations if he focuses on something not necessarily visually aided (technican, auto mechanic, art) he is bound to fail or be doomed to a life of misery or frustration is unfounded.
Perhaps this is a matter of semantics, that the people who happen to be deaf is actually a microcosm of the population at large, that the ratio stays fixed, that the majority of the people are not devoted to high-brow intellectual pursuits, but in more practical matters, and that the categorization of deaf/hearing is spurrious and unnecessary.
For subjective purposes, I do not find my disability a source of pride because I did not chose to be deaf. That may be a fundamental problem of my own, that I refuse to participate in a social thing that stems from an accident of nature (that translates as well to other elements such as those of racial origins, cultural background, social status). If I didn’t choose my ethnicity, my parents, my social class, my history, how can I take the credit for any of those?