Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Today's Theory Philosophy

Agamben, speaking in August 2002 (at what we would call, again for polemical purposes only, The School of Theory Philosophy par excellence):
I always have the impression, as once Heidegger put it, that we have here people busy sharpening knives when there is nothing left to cut.

The comments concerning Entvicklungsfahigkeit and the logic of the example, and the discussion that follows, also interesting; not to mention, clearly written.

Speaking of which...
Of course we should try to express ourselves as clearly, and with as little obscure language, as possible. But there is a contradiction that has to be dealt with – much of what is known as “common sense” is the medium or currency for the circulation of the taken-for-granted dominant values of this society. To express the subversive through language it is sometimes necessary to use words that have retained a clearer meaning through less use. Everyday language is a terrain largely occupied by the enemy: we tend to speak the language of our masters. (A beautiful example of a counter-tendency to this occurred in the 1992 LA Riot when the rioters coined the phrase “image looters” to describe the media: a neat reversal of perspective.)

In a world where appearances and the truth of things almost never coincide theory is necessary to penetrate the lies. This society encourages a fragmented consciousness that craves only immediacy in its consumption (e.g. tabloidism). But a partially understood text that resists complete immediate understanding may not be just unnecessarily dense and wordy. It may be that it has a depth, subtlety and value that is worth pursuing. And it may grasp and reflect more accurately the real complexities of class society. “I assume of course they will be readers who will be prepared to think while they are reading.” – Marx on ‘Capital’.

quote found on this page, which to be honest I thought was sort of funny, cultish, quaint and interesting all at once.


Michael Dorfman said...

Maybe we shouldn't read too much into this, but the first footnote in Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical is to "Beyond Good and Evil".

Now who's sharpening knives?

Matt said...

Poor, poor Nietzsche. So abused, by everyone.