Friday, July 17, 2009

Beyond blue-pencil

[Hopefully I have enough “cred” to inveigh against “difficult books” (I am, after all, mired in the work of figures such as Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel, etc., who are the worst of the worst), but I have increasingly found myself suspicious of the “difficult work”. On the one hand, I read texts in the sciences that express extremely complex ideas in very basic prose. Somehow I’m just unwilling to concede that what Hegel is trying to talk about is any more difficult or complex than what the biologist, complexity theory, economic social theorist, ecologist, or quantum physicist is attempting to articulate. This leads to my concern. I wonder if terribly dense styles such as we find in figures like Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel, Derrida, etc., etc., etc., aren’t a form of intellectual terrorism. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not referring to the quality of their concepts or arguments. What I am referring to is a general writing strategy that demands so much work on the part of the reader in the art of interpretation, that by the time you’ve managed to make heads or tails of what Lacan is arguing or Hegel is seeking to articulate or Deleuze is seeking to theorize, you have so much invested that you simply cannot think critically about that figure. Among the post-structuralists, at least, style was a way of subverting the metaphysics of presence and identity by drawing attention to the differential, the play of the signifier, our inability to pin down meaning due to the inherent polysemy of language. There’s an implicit politics here as well. The metaphysics of presence and identity is seen as being attached to centralized and totalizing social systems similar to the “Great Chain of Being”, where you have the sovereign giving decrees on high. However, isn’t there still an insidious power structure at work in these textual strategies as well? April 25, 2008 Style Posted by larvalsubjects under Politics, Writing [91] Comments]

[But perhaps you can at least sympathize with a reader of Baudrillard expecting to find coherent expository prose, and concluding the author is just being purposely and pretentiously obscure. I’ve learned that “staying with a text” written by Debashish can be worthwhile; I’m not quite convinced about Baudrillard yet… Re: The Melodrama of Difference Kepler Thu 16 Jul 2009 08:06 AM PDT Science, Culture and Integral Yoga]

[Friday, March 09, 2007 No one stirred us to the core more than Baudrillard
No one stirred us to the core more than
Baudrillard. From Marx’s “All that is solid melts into air,” Nietzsche’s “Transvaluation of all values,” and “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold” of W.B. Yeats to the procession of Sign-value, Seduction, and Hyperreality, it has been like roaming in dizzy heights. Good bye, the impossible story-teller! [TNM 2:09 PM Savitri Era: March 2007]

[Bergson is perhaps one of the least systematic among the philosophers of the modern age. But system-building is not the thing we value most in a philosopher. What we value in him much more than this is his power to kindle thought, to give a new orientation, a new outlook. The greatest obstacle to the progress of philosophy is stagnation of thought, the habit of moving in fixed grooves, a false sense of respectability which makes people shrink from trying new methods. Bergson is the most uncompromising opponent of all false respectability in philosophy. For him the only thing that is respectable is the love of truth. The meeting of the East and the West in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy‎ - Page 112 by Sisir Kumar Maitra - 1956]

Kepler is charmed by Chalmers, but ticks off Baudrillard too hastily. As a mélange of Marx, Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, McLuhan, and Klossowski, Baudrillard’s formidable intellectual vigor is matched by his penetrating speculative vision. If only one consents to his seduction! [TNM]

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