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Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times

Elisabeth Roudinesco’s Philosophy in Turbulent Times

There is something about the French, a certain . . . No, I won’t say it. But their best writers can abstract and poeticize deep, dark thought in a way that somehow “lightens” it (paradoxically), connects it with other worlds, and sends it to the stars. Thoughts dance in windy minds. They run off in their own directions, joyous (in a sense), even when the darkness of the topic engulfs you. No one seems to be able to make death…

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The Alien Suggests

The Alien Suggests

The Alien Suggests Go camping. Go together. Share a tent, a fire. Build the campsite with one another, for one another. Wake up to the sounds of brooks and rivers nearby. Pause and listen. Walk in the forest together, or by yourself when the dawn appears. Climb the mountainside for kindling and a peak at the sunrise over the distant hills. When you face forward, spin, take in your 360s, your panoramas. The old metal coffee pot is on the…

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Todd McGowan’s Universality and Identity Politics

Todd McGowan’s Universality and Identity Politics

Identity. It is to die for, sometimes. But we’re driven to form them – against. We become Not-our-parents, Not-our-siblings, Not-our-classmates, but never purely so. And rarely without a multitude of complications. There is always a mix, a set of contradictions that includes conformity with, too. They flow in and out. And while we develop our identity forms, we paradoxically become less in sync with our many selves. Our perceptions of the way others see us shape these forms even when…

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A Belated Update on This Life

A Belated Update on This Life

Some well-deserved recognition for a must-read book (which I reviewed here):   Professor Martin Hägglund wins the prestigious René Wellek Prize Martin Hägglund’s This Life has been awarded the René Wellek Prize for the best book in the field by the American Comparative Literature Association. The Wellek Prize is generally considered to be the most prestigious award in comparative literature. Past winners include Umberto Eco and Edward Said. In their prize motivation, the awards committee offered high praise for This Life:

Songs for Chasms, Saints and Sinners

Songs for Chasms, Saints and Sinners

There is always a gap, a canyon, an endless space between what we want and what we attain, and that’s by evolutionary design. It also can make for great poetry, literature, music, and art. Deathless prose. Immortal landscapes. Notes that reach stars and permeate them. It’s at the heart of metaphor, perhaps its very cause. Ruptures, craters, schisms and riffs are what keep us at it, relentlessly charging ahead, with the biological imperative to pass on our genes to the…

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Self-Reliance in the Age of Pandemics

Self-Reliance in the Age of Pandemics

It was never the case, at least not in the modern world. Outside a few. Outside a few lone souls, able to live on grass and berries. Able to hunt and gather, make their own shelters, their own clothes, treat themselves when they got sick. Pull their own teeth. Make and fix their own modest tools. Having next to no layers between themselves and the earth. Right there. Being there always. Right on top of the earth, like mother and…

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Integration at Four O’Clock

Integration at Four O’Clock

I wonder about the ideal all too often. I wonder if we were ever, as a species, supposed to attain something even close to an ideal. But that doesn’t stop me from wool-gathering, looking at clouds, staring at the darkness in my coffee cup, etc. That doesn’t stop me from questioning, endlessly, the way things are. How should we raise our kids and ourselves? Because, of course, all the while we think we’re raising them, they’re raising us in a…

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Original Zen

Original Zen

Original Zen I When Einstein was asked Do you believe in God? He replied I believe in Spinoza’s god And who is that, one wonders? All that is and ought to be Now and forever Blue waves without end Stars and green mountains and red rivers Dark roiling matter without end II The eternal reunions and disbursements of Nature As it is and ought to be Though we can’t see it Blinded by this and that Preset premade chain/anchor On…

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The Impression of Peace

The Impression of Peace

It’s something we really don’t know much about at all. In our own lives. The absence of war. Even to the extent that we’re not involved, we see it elsewhere, hear about it, note its presence on the news, in books, in history, on film. It surrounds us, this absence, this lack of the presence of anything remotely akin to peace – again, whether or not we’ve ever experienced its opposite.   In. The. Air. It’s with us wherever we…

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More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

More From the Grand Hotel Abyss

Some quick comments upon further reading . . . The author brings in Kafka’s own battle with his father, as I thought he would, discussing both his famous letter to his father and his short story, The Judgment. And he makes the connection work well between this and the family dramas of the rest of the Frankfurt school. But he adds a fascinating twist. Jeffries talks about Eric Fromm’s interest in Bachofen: “As an adult, Fromm became steeped in the…

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