coromandal


the problem of the docks
May 24, 2020, 10:51 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , ,

20180521_185210

We know morality comes from God and is passed through priests who write codes to which we become devotees. It’s essence is pure as it stems from a pure God and is passed through pure priests who make pure codes.

But there is another morality origin story. Merchants hire police and make self serving laws to protect their property on docks around the world. The laws are presented as moral even though their ultimate motive is self serving and maybe even impure. To know morality it may be better see where power lies than where God is.

Unfortunately, when we teach morality, when we study the history of morals, we always analyze the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and do not read [Colquhoun], this character who is fundamental for our morality. The inventor of the English police, this Glasgow merchant … settles in London where, in 1792, shipping companies ask him to solve the problem of the superintendence of the docks and the protection of bourgeois wealth. [This is a] basic problem …; to understand a society’s system of morality we have to ask the question: Where is the wealth? The history of morality should be organized entirely by this question of the location and movement of wealth.

Michel Foucault



governed by idiocy and prejudice
November 14, 2011, 4:04 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: , , , ,

In our recent economic downturn, people say that there is a culling happening, that the brightest and the best are being retained in their companies while the dubious and slovenly are let go.  They say that this is a good thing, as the fit become fitter and human progress is assured.  No one really says what happens to all the people that slip through the cracks:  trampled underfoot perhaps, but anyway out of sight out of mind.

This version of who sinks and who swims doesn’t fully square with my experience.  I have found that, at least sometimes, the loyal and boring tend to rise quickly and entrench, while the smart get restless and make waves and are let go, or get bored and leave of their own accord.

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fetish housework
June 29, 2009, 12:34 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

This is from Bea Ballard’s article about her late father called My dad, the perfect mum at Times Online. Their mother died when the children were young and the father raised the children alone.

In this way of living, home is a reflection of a state of mind:  cleanliness is next to bourgeois repression.  To me it’s far closer to the truth than its cousin which drags God – unwillingly, no doubt – in.

We lived in what we came to think of as a very happy nest – there was a sense of warm chaos that was hugely liberating. He did not care about bourgeois concerns such as keeping the house tidy – as he once said: “You can do all the housework in five minutes if you don’t make a fetish of it.” He later speculated that the compulsive cleaning of a family home “might be an attempt to erase those repressed emotions that threaten to break through into the daylight” and certainly I remember finding the grander homes of some of my school chums eerily silent and stultifying in their neatness compared with our wonderful home, where old plastic flippers discarded from a beach holiday were used as doorstops.



safe at home
May 10, 2008, 6:32 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , ,

(haris panidis | saeco etienne coffee maker | electra coffee machine)

In this piece, the middle class, after having been harangued by Luther for their pursuit of comfort and sensuality, turn to the drawing room and its rituals of pleasure-without-risk, including the drinking of coffee.  It is at home where risk is erased.  The theorist Schmitt criticizes the middleclass for leaving broader social life and retreating into family life.  This life turned inward may be comfortable, but is marked by fear of the world outside and aversion to conflict.  In it, mother’s tut-tutting isn’t merely corrective; it’s sinister.

“In a note in his acrimonious postwar glossary, the legal and political theorist Carl Schmitt captures the stale atmosphere of the bourgeois interior, and points to coffee as a symbol of the desire to enjoy undisturbed security within the confines of the household:

“French: sécurité; German (until now): Gemütlichkeit. That is the internalized – or interiorized – but at the same time secularized assurance of divine grace, the end of fear and trembling at a nice cup of coffee and a pipe stuffed with spicy tobacco. It is the reappearance of well-concealed sensual enjoyment, after Luther and the Moravians raged against security as the actual form of sensuality.”

In Schmitt’s view, the typical bourgeois philistine, unmistakably portrayed in his entry, is not so much ascetically opposed to pleasure as he is wary of pleasure that cannot be enjoyed securely – that is – without worry. Coffee, in combination with tobacco, stands for intoxication without risk; it is a stimulant that does not dangerously loosen the subject’s self-possession. It signifies a furtive bliss distinguished from the ecstatic, which implies a movement transcending the bounded ego lodged in the safety of plush comfort.Yet the note contains a more far-reaching critique. Schmitt contends that the comfortable life in the bourgeois interior, despite its mundane and modest quality, seduces men into a sinful attachment to worldly enjoyment. The sinfulness resides in the pursuit of security: the will to achieve a state of complete safety in the shielded salon betrays a blasphemous belief in the possibility of a man-made utopia.

Schmitt’s diary entry might come across as a peculiar expression of a severe Christian ethos, but he joins a long line of critics of the bourgeoisie, who fault it for its incapacity to appreciate a community that extends beyond the realm of the family. The bourgeois individual typically believes that his real life plays out in the private sphere, and perceives the outside world as a foreign and dangerous territory. To the extent that the bourgeoisie does act politically, however, it continues to be guided by the desire for security nurtured in the home, and its ambition is to turn the world into a calm interior. To the bourgeoisie, conflict rudely disturbs the continual traffic of discourse – it should simply not take place. At this point, the bourgeois host’s call for the re-establishment of placid conversation – Nur immer gemütlich! or “Temper! Temper!” – sounds increasingly sinister.”

No Coffee by Jakob Norberg from Eurozine