coromandal


identifying the monstrous
July 4, 2013, 4:06 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

We generally believe the enemy is ‘out there,’ and dispatch cowboys, armies, posses, swat teams, marines, boys in blue, nerdy scientists —  to get them.

There are lots of examples of blaming the other guy. Religion often emphasizes self perfecting: sanctification in Christianity, enlightenment in Buddhism; which surely lead to divergent paths and a divide across which we cast aspersions. The enemy isn’t us, it’s you lot.

But Pogo Possum- the cute little swamp creature from Okeefenokee – said, “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

In his excerpt Terry Eagleton tells us that real relationships develop when there is a shared understanding that, like the elephant, the monster is in the room.

Here is Eagleton:

Tragedy is the form that recognizes that if a genuine human community is to be constituted, it can be only on the basis of our shared failure, frailty, and mortality. This is a community of repentance and forgiveness, and it represents everything that is the opposite of the American Dream. This means, in the terms of Jacques Lacan, that the symbolic can be founded only on the Real. Only by acknowledging the monstrous as lying at the very heart of ourselves, rather than projecting it outward onto others, can we establish anything more than a temporary, imaginary relationship with one another, one which is not likely to endure. This means relationships based on the recognition that at the very core of the self lies something profoundly strange to it, which is utterly impersonal and anonymous but closer to us than breathing, at once intimate and alien. This has had many names in Western civilization: God, Language, Desire, the Will, Language, the Unconscious, the Real, and so on.

Terry Eagleton, The Nature of Evil, Tikkun



philosophy of success

Alain de Botton writes and speaks with a perfect blend of erudition and accessibility.  He’s on the vanguard of a new movement to popularize philosophy.  But we hate ideas, we’re a ‘just do it’ culture, how can there be a movement with any traction to popularize philosophy?

Consider that in this society and the world, we are going through a great deal of tumult and change: a lot of unemployment, corruption, and general upheaval.  And consider too that perhaps we need to question some of the ideas that have formed the basis of everything that went wrong and got us into this mess.  In theory, new ideas gain traction when enough people start to think that the ‘just do it’ culture should pit stop and begin to listen to people who broker in ideas, like philosophers, like de Botton.

A philosopher, and someone who knows philosophy, can tell you why a perpetually positive society has lots of envy and depression.  And why a meritocratic society can become very cruel.  And he can tell you that one very real way out of our hyper competitive work and social culture is an understanding of Greek tragedy which sets at its theatrical center, failure.  He can tell you how our analytic ways of thinking preclude the truth that our relative successes and failures in life are often very haphazard.

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