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Category: Philosophy

Grand Hotel Abyss: by Stuart Jeffries

Grand Hotel Abyss: by Stuart Jeffries

Just beginning this already fascinating group biography of the Frankfurt School. The author, Stuart Jeffries, is sketching out the foundation for this group portrait, primarily through a concentration on one generation’s battle with the previous generation – mostly set in Berlin. I imagine that further reading will see this expand greatly, and that he won’t remain there, in “anxiety of influence” territory. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it would be reductive to base the amazing work of…

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Necessity and Inevitability

Necessity and Inevitability

It’s almost inevitable that the conversation continues. About Art. About the way we humans structure things, because our brains were built that way. About the way we choose to structure poems, plays, novels and such. The rocks we use to get to something else. The fire inside that rock. The spirit of stone the best sculptors find and exploit. It was there all along, they say. And the best don’t just say that, they feel it with every fiber of…

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They had fun too

They had fun too

A fine book, and timely. It provokes much thought, about how we live our lives, how we can better see the world and our own place within it. Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existential Cafe is a group biography, in a sense, about several individuals, a movement, a few key countries, and one city, especially: Paris. She gives us the philosophical background, places her main characters in proper context, shows how they lived and loved, together and apart. Some of them had…

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What is the Holy?

What is the Holy?

The holy is not the gods. Humans have been told about thousands of different gods, for thousands of years, primarily to steer us into obedience of earthly powers, and to make us give up our searching. The holy is not religion. Religions were designed to organize this obedience, to add layers and layers of fictional supports, to add so many layers our heads spin, so we give up our searching. The holy is not empire, or nation, or nation-state. These…

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Necessary Fictions, Their Sources and Utility

Necessary Fictions, Their Sources and Utility

Stumbled upon a fascinating TED talk this morning, by Yuval Noah Harari, entitled What explains the rise of humans? In a nutshell, his thesis is that we alone, among all the species on earth, are capable of flexible cooperation in large numbers, and that the chief galvanizing force behind this is our ability to create and believe in fictions.  His recent book is now on my must-read list: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. From the author’s website: Homo sapiens rules…

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The Consent of the Governed

The Consent of the Governed

Kristin Ross’s excellent, but all too short Communal Luxury is a much needed refresher course on the tragedy that was the Paris Commune of 1871. In a very short space, she supplies the essential philosophical antecedents and tells of the key personnel involved in its formation and ex-pat extension after the slaughter. Along the way, the reader can’t help but be reminded of recent political formations such as Occupy, and to note the same patterns of popular rebellions met with overwhelming…

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Conversations With the No-Self

Conversations With the No-Self

For December, welcome aboard new poetry, fiction and art from Uzodinma Okehi, Maurice Devitt, Eric Muller, and Dr. Ernest Williamson III.   *     *     *     *     *   So, I was thinking. Or the Not-I was positing. Or the far-be-it-from-me was asking . . . just who are we trying to reach when we make art? Who are we avoiding? Is it cut and dried, black and white and obviously obvious? Or is it all just a complex web of…

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Labor and Amnesia

Labor and Amnesia

The reactionary mind must have an enemy, or two, or three. It must always believe it is threatened by something dire (and Other), and must rally to fight that threat — whether that threat truly exists or not. Nine times out of ten, the threat as described is pure invention, and the powers that be manipulate reactionaries further down the totem poll, play them like violins, hypnotize them like sheep. Those pulling the strings know full well that the threat…

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Past lives: The Archive of DNA

Past lives: The Archive of DNA

All religious scripture speaks on many levels, in a multitude of ways. Some who read scripture believe them to be literally true, while others see them as poetic, symbolic, allegorical. They see metaphors where others see history. And all writers of scripture no doubt realized this vast sea of difference. They all realized that their work would be interpretated differently, given the context, the culture, the times, the levels of literacy and education. The best of them wrote in such…

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A Return to Egalitaria

A Return to Egalitaria

Watch this video on YouTube   One of the beauties of numbers is their endless supply. No worries about “scarcity” when it comes to our numerical friends. So, in an economy based upon the value of labor instead of capital, with numbers being assigned for a day’s work, and those numbers in turn being used to purchase goods and services, there is no danger of running out of money. Money, per se, does not exist in Egalitaria, and it doesn’t…

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