3.15.2010

"Can you look at it, remain with it, be quiet with it?"

I'm starting to see clearly again, thank G-d. I don't know how or why I always get lured again into speaking enthusiastically about politics.

It seems to me so recently that many of my friends were telling me that violent politics are the result of too-confident a belief in social engineering. It was the Enlightenment, wasn't it, with its Hobbesian rage for order, that precipitated the Holocaust? Theories of decentralization were all the rage, and government power (whether left/Clinton or right/Bush) was looked upon with suspicion. "Let us wage war on totality" (Lyotard). That rhetoric is so fresh in my memory.

When that was what I was hearing, I was generally dissatisfied because I felt that that history was oversimple; I felt that blaming the violence of the 20th century on "modernism" was an irresponsible evasion that reflected an underlying unwillingness on the part of academics to admit their own participation in such orders as fascism (Vilfredo Pareto), nazism (Heidegger), and communism (from Fourier to Sartre). Rather than own up for the way those academic theories turned into human rights disasters, academics muddied the waters by changing the terminology. In those days, I just wanted to hear a spade called a spade. To hear someone say that Stalin's acts were brutal because they were based on brutal theory.

Now I see that I will never hear this kind of rectification of names. Because it's not about truth. It is about power, just as the Foucault-lovers admitted a decade ago. Power doesn't own up; it ducks; it dodges. The libertarian theorists are as guilty on the "right" as the now-they-call-themselves-progressives-again are on the left. No more will capitalism solve the world's problems than socialism will.

The only revolution worth discussing is inward--the only plausible utopia, inward. It is why Plato's Republic called for liberally educated philosophers, why Jesus located the kingdom of heaven within, and why The Upanishads tell you, "Thou art That." In every generation in every culture this voice remains, and it has never been responsible for anything but peace.

So anyway, I'm returning to my wheelhouse, reminded by something vast that there's nothing new under the sun. I know it's a conversation killer, but...




4 comments:

Insignificant Wrangler said...

Because I hear a version of myself in there somewhere--it is different to blame violence on theory and to implicate theory in violence. The relationship might be symbiotic more than casual. Postmodern theory for me isn't about rejection (or salvation) as much as it is about guilt and responsibility.

And, of course, that's a pretty Plato you paint there.

Casey said...

Interesting, though... so are you leaning toward anarchy? No more systems, really--because without theory, we can't have systems?

More importantly: Tiger's going to play in the Master's.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I leaning toward acknowledging both that all systems are imperfect (and violent) and that we cannot live without systems (let's call them networks).

I am also interested in the idea that networks are coming to replace/re-invent the narratological basis for our existence. Perhaps?

Of course Tiger is going to play in the Masters:

1. no additional media will be allowed
2. the Master's carefully controls ticket sales and has a zero tolerance policy for any kind of player harassment.
3. his legacy is tied to the Majors
4. from what I remember, he plays that course pretty darn well.

Casey said...

Interesting, Wrangler. Networks are sorta non-narrative. I heard today that girls are way ahead of boys in reading skills in all 50 states at every age. Apparently guys don't like reading narratives unless it's a narrative they already know well. Relevant?

Can networks provide direction? Conscious direction? Is an "over-network" manifesting, like the over-soul? -- will it do violence to individuals to maintain itself? Is that okay?

I love Tiger. He's so assimilated.