Today was an excellent day

After a well fought class, pouring over the 16 pages without which there would be no continental philosophy, I returned home to excellent news. It seems that I will be able to participate in the Algonquin trip leaving tommorow morn. We leave by noon, to arrive by five and hopefully in time to canoe far enough to feel “in the woods” when we set up camp. Saturday is to be a day of canoeing and hiking, and sunday aswell, returning back Toronto. I look forward beyond words to leaving this great city that I might return having breathed air fresher than I can immitate by running in the cold. (I will bring my F90x, 28-85 lens, circular polarizer, and several rolls of kodak gold 200 to document the trip. And, since shoppers developing includes CDs, you will see the results.

On a not unrelated note today was the first cold day. I knew it as soon as I began walking towards the subway this morning. (“Morning” is dependant on when one’s first class is). It was also the first day it felt cold enough to wear cords. I do love chords. My outfit today was my second favorite (but possibly best coloured) green shirt, green chords, and green fleece coat. I recieved several compliments. Well, one compliment.

This evening I had the pleasure of meeting Alice, the wonderful French exchange student whom I met at Tina’s party last friday, for a drink. Actually, we ended up first going to a talk put on by the U of T political science department at which two former Canadian diplomats spoke about the Fish War (alas M, I missed that part), Kosovo, and various other diplomatic endeavours. The most contentious moment was when a student asked why Canada had played the role it did in support of the new Haitien interim government, including the way that the World Bank was aiding privitazation of national industries in this interim period (the support in the actual coup was not mentioned). The awnser was a loose avoidance of the real substance of the question, stating that Canada’s diplomatic stance towards Haiti is distinct from the United States despite having the same appearence. When, in response to something the diplomat had said the student responded “But the OAS [possibly faulty acronym] recognized the election as valid” the student was told “one question per person”, and several people yelled out “that’s not a question” when he phrased it in the form of a question. When he as a last ditch addressed the audience saying it was something we could look up when we returned home, he recieved ravanous applause.

Comments concerning the Haitien situation, whether for or against the position that even re-iterating this question takes up, are always welcome on this blog. One of my former professors is there, or said he would be there, now. I actually believe that incidents like Haiti are of almost infinitely greater value for young intellectuals to be aware, as opposed to say Heideggerian philosophy. If this post begins a comment debate about the Haitien situation I would be more than impressed. Unfortunately, I would be able to participate because – I’m going camping and hiking!

Concerning Alice, the date ended up being more of a non-date, as after the conference we went out for a drink with her friends. I enjoyed myself immensly, as I was afforded the oppertunity to speak french amoung francophones for several hours. Alice, aswell as her friend _____ are both ravashing young maidens, and I dare say, both smiled at me quite a bit.

One person has asked for me to post the link to my photo.net page. So here it is

http://www.photo.net/photodb/member-photos?user_id=933648&include=all

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Ongoing Events, ontological reflections on Landscape.

Somewhat unfortunately, I can no longer pretend to be in the “initial” stage of being-in toronto. I’ve settled into a new reading schedule (I’m re-reading Being and Time along with two excellent commentaries, one by Hubert Dreyfus and one by a German Frenchman named Schurmann, also re-reading Spivak’s Critique) which includes – wait for it – some actual fiction, and hopefully a biography. “Enduring Dreams: An Exploration of the Arctic Landscape” is the first fiction on my list. Written by an English Professor – John Moss – (I should have guessed, and in a way I did as I did not check until the end of the first chapter), it bears chapter titles like “Geography as meta-fiction”, and”On the Historiographics of Dreams”. In short, he’s my kind of writer – very in tune to Kantian paradigms of representation and Kuhnian like sensibilities of theory-relative experience. He spends a lot of time, as I would, making clear distinctions (although, never analytically) such as between “Landscape”, which means something like Heidegger’s Worldliness of the World – that world which we are being-in, a priori to our subject-object relation to it, and Geography – the set of representations we impose upon the world. Geography thinks north as a direction, a place, whereas Landscape, well I believe I’ll simply cite Moss at length.

Landscape is the natural world without benefit of human conciousness, although not excluding human presence.
You may enter landscape, but in humility; if truly there, you cannot tell yourself apart from it.

It would be easy to think that what he is speaking of is the “super-sensible world”, the world in abstraction from our own perception. But, if we look again and notice that he includes human presence, and not-being-able-to-tell-yourself-apart-from-it in landscape (I use dashes to imitate the German ability to string many words together into one), it seems he is speaking not of a world in abstraction from human conciousness, but the world in its worldliness – a world before (not temporally, but ontologically) the”benifit of human conciousnes”. A world in which we are being-in and we cannot tell our being-in apart from the world.

This begs the question, by which I mean begs for the question, it drops to its knees and pleads that I ask: is this ontology “prior to the benefit of human conciousness” therefore not culturally mediated? Is the landscape the same landscape for a lifelong northerner as for a Toronto city-boy as for an 11 year old girl from Kansas? The obvious awnser seems to be yes, and that the Geography is interpreted differently by each because their modes of everyday being-in-the-world are all different. But ontologically, with respect to their being, certainly all these beings have the same relation to any given Landscape.

This isn’t epistemic violence, strictly speaking – because the relation of knowing requires, not neccesarily human “conciousness” but it does require a directed intentional state between the knower and the known, or alternativly a relation of revealing between apophantic (“speaking”, loosely) phenomena and the being for whom the phenomena apophantizes for if we insist on knowing in the greek sense of Alithea. In both cases there is always a subject-object relation which the being-in of Landscape eschews. No, rather it’s a kind of ontological violence. Or is it an ontological inclusion, if it is so basic as not to tread on any cultures epistemology? But alas, for us white men (Heidegger and I, and possibly John Moss although I have no idea how far he will follow me down this path) to think we’ve found something primordial, primitive (now, there is a violent term) beneath both our own and aboriginal epistemologies, what right do we have to speak underneath of the Other? Perhaps if ontology remains always and only inquiry, retains a self-reflexive aspect that repeats this question of ontological violence, then it can be saved.

Thoughts?

Ayn Rand

I suppose I would come about to his thinker at some point or another, and that point was today. Motivated by a friend having made a friend who espouses Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and having heard a few things about that line of thought, I felt compelled to do some of my own research. So, after perusing through some online (pro-rand) summeries, and some online texts, I’ve come to some preliminary findings.

1) Rand’s ethics is based on a non-sensical ground. She believes that values can be derived from Reason. Reason is simply not the kind of thing that has content. Reason can’t tell you what you should believe – it can only help you find out what exactly you should believe once you believe at all. Which is to say, if you start with a value, reason can help you derive things from that value, and find out how to act in various situations with relation to the values that you hold. Reason is never itself a source of value.

2) Rand triumphs the heroic, creative individual as the apex of humanity. Kind of odd, for starters, for someone to see individuals as the greatest expressions of humanity when all human achievements, less perhaps a few wonderful pieces of philosophy, were primarily collective efforts. Beyond this, she doesn’t seem to even begin to intuit the possibility that complex spheres of repression and domination inhibit human creativity and free expression. Not to mention that economic injustice perpetuates the toil and suffering of some individuals whereas others are paid to, say, write philosophy. If one still wants to triumph the liberation of man (who is, as we say, “free to starve”), it seems that one can neither argue for small government (like Rand), nor approve of our current system. All arrows point to the need for a radical restructuring and rethinking of society in order to truly liberate the heroic free thinking individual. This won’t happen, and that might not be such a bad thing either.

3) Rand considers the other only in the 3rd place. The other is not to be violently abused – a philosophy of non-interference. Real original there Rand, especially when you want to ridicule Kant, who just happened to be the first to propone such a principal. Seriously though, if individuals are heroically free, they are at least technically, if not morally responsible, for the toil and suffering of others. What I mean by technically responsible is that it is within their freedom and power to do something about it – they are responsible for it in the same sense as I am responsible for the light in my room being on at some perticular time in which I have the power to turn it off, even if I did not infact turn it on – because I could turn it off if I would like.

4) Rands philosophy doesn’t start from a position of dis-inerestedness. The one coming up with it has perfect knowledge of his/her own place in the world, so there is no need to consider the other even for selfish reasons. The other ends up being considered only because it would not be in the individuals best interests to violently harm him or her.

5) This is truly a side point – but, but it illustrates Rands general poor scholarship. Rand doesn’t understand Racism at all. In her essay which characterizes Racism as an undeveloped form of collectivism she believes that racism lies on the premise that the content of someones mind is biologically passed down and is infererior in the lineage of the black man than the white. The “cognitive apparatus” however, remains the same in both. This is very sad, because i live at a far greater distance to american slavery than she did, but it is infact the case that she has this precisly backwards – and this is important. Racism tends to see the others mind as inherently of weaker strength, and then if one defines reason as the quality that makes one human – the one who posseses less reason (precisly in his “cognitive apparatus”) can be deemed unhuman. The account of Racism she gives makes sense if the only racist text one has ever read is Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia”, but that’s about it. Racism, for the most part, concentrates on the lesser ability, inborn, of the racialized other.

6) I’ll deal with this last because its least important. Her “objectivism”, which is to say her philosophy – which does contain a metaphysics, epistomology, and ethics of sorts, is basically laughable. I don’t need to go into this because no one reading this cares about subjectivity and subject-object relations and epistemic limits. Suffice it to say that Philosophy since Descartes has moved quite a bit on these issues, and it’s as if she scanned a first year textbook and then never read a philosopher again. (She even has a speech about why Philosophy is expendable!)

This entry is for D. and V.

I’m listening to Cake today – Prolonging the Magic. It’s a truly wonderful album, all the moreso for me because it is inexorably bound up with the San Fran road trip – a five day adventure that truly lived up to D.’s original declaration that it was to be a “life-changing event”. Every guitar lick, every haunting verse reminds me of a stretch of highway, of a stop. Of driving back across the bridge at Astoria to the battery park to eat cereal and oranges. Of the colour of the seats. Of proving to V. that freedom was an illusion – starting only from the basic principals that microeconomists agree about. Of driving all night to get to Aberdeen to see a lackluster performance of the Oh Brother where art thou? song, of putting our hands in the muddy banks of the wishkah.

But, the memories don’t exist as a coherent whole – they are bound up with other memories of trips. The 2nd road trip, equally worthwhile and not comparable at all. Faster, farther, sicker. A long straight highspeed burn to the end of the Country and back. Driving through the desert. Being petrefied that Dave was going to fall off the huge rock in Phoenix. The fucking Mormons. The obscenely beautiful Californean countryside for which we had to stop, despite the 85mph freeway speeds and potentially farmers with guns.

And there is of course, although still farther back – the Quadra trip. What I remember most clearly was getting there – leaving ubc in the morning, bus to ferry, ferry to nanimo, hitchhike (my floormate ended up picking us up) to campbell river, ferry, taxi to the Legion – much dancing, spinning Stina till she feel on the floor. Which actually hurt. Kelsey convincing Ben to drive us to her place – very far up island. And then the week. Cold at first, the house hadn’t had a chance to warm up. The first night was so cold. Canoeing with Stina way up the lake, we must have gone dozens of kilometers. I got Heidegger all wet. The Heidegger that I’m reading today – the water damage was done that day. Drying Heidegger out on the wood stove. Watching the Twightlight Zone videos – the only time I have ever seen the show (black and white, original series). I feel in love with it, but not that hard as I havn’t seen an episode since. Also, hiking up over the bluff and back down to the bay – entirely secluded, entirely devoid of people.

Places to return to, places to have been. This entry didn’t end up just being for D. and V. It should read “This entry is for D. and V. and M. and m. and C. and K.” I love you all.

Some will say I should end my tradition of four AM blogging…

Everyday, which is to say every day I drink socially, which is to say almost everday, which is to grossly exagerate the facts, is a day when I meet several entirely datable girls. Of course, I’m not actually dating any of them. But, I’m amazed at the depth of the datable pool here. The most notable girl I met tonight was French. French! If I had neglected to mention – I have a thing for the French language in general. (Yes, it’s true – speaking German doesn’t get you anywhere with me. Even if it means you can read Heidegger in the original, I won’t sleep with you because of it.) She didn’t have a phone, but she gave me her msn. That was a first. Now I sleep – in the morning board training, and in the evening, hopefully Salsa lesson with Tina. And in between – wonderful, wonderful Heidegger. *drools*.

Reading the introduction to Sein unt Zeit over today, I had a feeling of understanding Heidegger not just in the sense of understanding what he is proponing – his conclusions, but actually of understanding hte arguments. it was really quite a marvolous feeling, perhpas qutie pointless, but a depth which I’ve never becfore had the confidence to tread into.

Salsa to come

Today, after an excellent Hegel class (today we stoped being rigorous Kantians, and I stopped buying the book – I think Hegel’s subject is not only contingent but completely immodest), I came home to a welcoming, friendly house. Tonight was pot-luck night – we shared and enjoyed Chili prepared by Kim (our resident Chaplain), and dessert courtesy of my mother (yes, the cake came all the way from BC). We discussed many things – the most stark being the new art/science exhibit at the ontario museaum of science. It’s made of actual human bodies, meticulously stripped away of their skin and fat to reveal bone and muscle. It’s art, it’s science, it’s really fucked up cause your looking at actual dead people. Not skelotons, not models, but the bones and flesh of people who were alive not long ago. I’m not sure what I have to say about this other than it might suggest a sort of deconstruction of the human exterior by bringing interior to exterior, but it might also just re-enforce the superficiality of skin by positing an ‘essential” to the muscles and bones and ligaments, whereas the fat and skin are posited as innesential. But, even that would be a sort of inversion of our paradigms of beauty – or would it? Don’t we always already consider beauty to be (philosophically) innesential? Beauty is not eating.

After dinner Arty’s friend Tina arrived with their mutual friend Nima. (None of them are old friends – the oldest any of them have known each other is three weeks). Another guy was there, Daniel I believe. He was interseted in Arty, and had picked her up outside some sort of washroom. He really had nothing to say, other than that he was intersted in Arty. Now, I’m not saying being up front can’t work for anyone – but you do need to make yourself appear as someone having something to offer first. He decided not to come dancing with us when it wasn’t going to be just him and her. Fine by me – I had a ball. Although I didn’t dance at the club (I can’t salsa dance – and they are all very good. And by they I mean Arty and the other people at the club). Tina, Nima and I didn’t dance, but we watched Arty and others, and wandered around on the street ouside and drank vodka. Which is where we learned to dance – on the street, singing our own music, Tina taught me some dance steps. We have decided to take a Salsa class together. Also, we have set a date to go to the Art gallery together. She has also invited me to come with her and her friend to Montreal. I very much enjoy her company. She is cute, spunky, and speaks english with a partially German but mosly Irish accent that I find absolutely wonderful. Still, I think she’s more of a friend candidate, especially but not only because of the infinite horizon opened up by that about which I will not blog.

Tommorow I will not go to the analytic practical philosophy class, because I have not done the reading, and because it is, ahem – very dumb. One of the readings for this class professed to be about the incommensurability of values – but in fact it managed never to mention the problem of reconciling values across cultures. Apparently for that I need to read Davidson’s “Radical interpretation”. In the evening I will attend board training with the actual co-op board members, and later on there is a party at Tina’s flat – 94 major street.

_____

I was thinking today a little about the fact that I’m so freakin happy (see “Bridal” entry a ways back for an attempt to specifically deliniate my mood). I wonder if it has to do with having moved away, not just from friends, but from all the emotional difficulties which are so near to me in Vancouver. I hate to think that being far from m. makes my life so much more a positive excercise of spirit, but it is at least possibly true. While accepting the burning heat of envy into the essentially positive play of emotional forces that make up a ‘bridal’ openess towards being and possibility has been an important, mayhaps the most important psychological hurdle overcome, it is possible that this was only possible when other possibilities are closed off by distance and time. This is not to say that I do not miss her, or that I don’t value the entirely worthwhile and enjoyable communication that we share from time to time. The regret (and it is alright to have regrets from time to time, we are not faultless beings) I have conerning m. in general is the sense that my actions towards her were always coloured by feelings in which she never shared an interest. I feel that I have never sufficiently honoured her. Then again, I’ve been reading Derrida on Levinas. How can one read such passages and not speak aloud – and cry. Weep at the honour, the respect, the humbleness. The opposite of Critchley. But, once that symbolism is essentially over – replaced by a robust cosumerist idealism (which is a naive idealism) – how can we sign for honour, for reverence, for infinite respect?

Today I stood for 20 minutes in the rain waiting at the front of the line for the bus, after I had been the first person not let on the previous. In line, before I knew whether or not I would get on, I felt an incredible compulsion to, if I were the marginal case, give up my spot for another, for the other. For the person who I had come into eye contact with. For my neighbor (and the lines are long enough perhaps we can begin to speak of neighboorhoods!). The rain was wonderful – exactly the right temperature. And at one moment, and by a moment I mean a space of less than 2 seconds – the rain increased in power. Such a ‘moment’ was made possible only by the fast ramping up of rain power. What an odd experience, if you mediate just a little bit. Regardless. People should pay for such rains.

Another Sunday

Not much to report. The unblogged, or rather de-blogged occurance has not been followed up on, but alas it is out of my hands for the time being. Being and time remains prominent, as I begin “reading around” for my thesis. I am so excited! Today I was meant to have a phone installed, but I waited between the hours of eight and twelve, and no phone man arrived. Tommorow Bell (310-Bell) shall be called, and barrated – asking them to come immediately and install the phone. I’ve bought a phone with 2 phones (if anyone understands). Arty, my German floormate is going to use the other phone, which will cut my monthly costs by half. She likes the idea much better than a cell phone – lower fees, free voicemail (ahem, it’s called an awnsering machine).

My bedding arrived today! (Scanning in process). How do I set up a photobucket account?

Rogues – Jacques Derrida

I have never felt compelled to write a review of something I had read for public consumption, but I certainly feel it in this instance. Rogues, is a text (or rather, two essays “on reason”) which, while it can only really be read by Philosophers, is written for Political Scientists. The argument concerns the status of “Rogue States” and the term “rogue”, in french “Voyou”, which derrida traces from origins of the terms to its use in US foreign policy starting at the end of the Cold War – growing hair on it’s back in 1993 when they announced to the UN that they were prepared to and would invoke article 51 to invade “Rogue States”, states that threatened their security. And then, to the end of Rogue States, in 2000 when the administration annouced the term to be “innapropriate”, replacing it with “states of concern”. Through this question of Rogue States, which is always are there any (more) Rogue states? (A t’il plus etats voyous?), or at the same time as it, Derrida asks continuously the question of “Democracy to come”. What is the democracy to come, has it come. Is democracy to come? What is the status of Democracy, in our Post-911 era? Very concrete questions for a writer often accused of esoterism in the extreme.

There is of course much more to the book than this, because the book is, infact, more than a paragraph long. (For the record, Derrida’s writing is wonderfully flowing, divided into paragraphs. Repetious, circling. He gets his point across in a different way than other writers, but if you read it enough, and read over it enough, the speech act will suceed (and in a manner that emphasizes the limitation, the never complete-ness of a speech act). For someone who has never before read Derrida it will present a challenge, but, especially because of the content and subject matter, it would make a worthwhile struggle to any politically minded (which, I think comprises most everyone these days) student who respects obscure French thought but doesn’t feel like it is something they could ever understand themselves. And, I know they will be talking about it at Oxford this fall.

It’s raining in Toronto. I’m listening to “Starting Point”, but it doesn’t make sense. It’s too warm out. These days, I like listening to happy music – mostly Jessie Harris. I even like old country. I wonder if this signs for a change in my general demenour. I am pretty happy these days. I’m totally pumped for this Hegel (Rhymes with Bagel) presentation tommorow. I can’t believe I’m finally in a Hegel course! Life rocks! I’ll speak with the program head tommorow that I’ve chosen to do the thesis option.

I just got invited to a vegetarian pot-luck on Saturday. I also just realized I’m attracted to 32 year old Chaplain. Well, worse things have happened. Also – the song that just came up on my itunes is “Seven Nation Army” sung performed by Nostalgia 77 – a jazz/funk band with a wonderful female vocalist.

It’s raining and gross out and I feel gross and I’m SO HAPPY. Fuck, that’s such an awful word, “happy”. It eminates pictures of little kids with balloons. The patheticness of the capital letters underscores the inability of that world to convey my meaning. Plastic balloons. Well, if you have a better word, a word which better describes a feeling of satiation, hope, self-confidence, non-theological joy, I’dlike to hear it. But, for now I’m scrapping ‘happy’. For now, I’m going with bridal. Bridal-normally reffering to an outdated institution, a gendered term also, the property of being the female participant in the bonding of the man to the women in relationship of bondage (not the fun kind). By “bridal” I’m envisioning a sort of submittence to world, a joyful (but joy is not enough) submissal which is only possible in a situation of positive (but positive is not enough) demeanour. Bridal is the attitude of opening oneself to pure emotion regardless of positive/negative demeanour of that emotion. Bridal is a readiness to acceptance, it’s seing world for and as it is for oneself without idle pessimism, without idle complaint. Active reprisal, or acceptance. Bridal is ceremonial – it’s everyday the ever changing ritual of life lived without regrets. To be bridal is to both have no regrets and to revel in the regrets one has. It is to love the cruel stab of jealousy. The stab is heat is love is not to be judged, is judged as and for what it.

I’m listening to “Starting Point” again. And it’s warm. And it’s sad, but bridal does not expel sadness. Happiness and sadness were never opposites anyway, not negations of each other, but neither wholly indifferent.

“Look if I gave you the chance – you woudn’t stand for it”

It’s true. I woudn’t need it, I woudn’t need what the chance would mean. I fully bridal, accept the world as it opens itself towards me. (And now I finally know what K. meant)