So I got a new idea a couple of days ago (well I’m not sure how new it actually is, and a lot of people might have thought about it already, but here it goes): Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Google Street view-function that displayed the cities as they were in earlier times? You could walk around in 19th. century Paris, see the Arcades that Benjamin wrote so extensively about, and stroll down the earliest lower parts of Manhattan, the ones depicted in Gangs of New York? Hell, I would have loved to check out 16th century Oslo! The street view function would be an animated model of how the city looked, approximately of course, since we can never hope to get a perfect match. What would turn the whole thing ever cooler is to enable a “fast-forward” function, so that you see the city being built and transformed through the years until you finally recognize your neighbourhood for what it is today. Ok, so how do you do it (taken that there are no cars to drive back in time and take the necessary pictures)? You build a model based on old maps, pictures, paintings, building-permits and public documents on city-planning. You use all kinds of data from archeology, historians and architects to make the old city come alive again. It’s not only fun for nerds, it’s a great pedagogical tools for schools and students. Ok, so who wants to buy my idea?
Reading the Parallax View these days. It’s always very entertaining to read Zizek, and there are plenty of good points, I especially find his combined analysis of the logic of capitalism and the logic of desire/the logic of the subject true indeed. But his general ontology is not for me. Claiming to be a materialism, there are very few ontic references in Zizek besides scattered examples from everyday social life and the arts (it’s not entirely like Badiou’s formal ontological hell, but draws close enough). I know there is supposed to be a metaphysics behind the coupling of Lacan-Hegel, but from the perspective of ontology/metaphysics, Zizek sounds a lot like Adorno to me; it’ all peep-hole metaphysics, their philosophies wrestle with idealist epistemology and can only catch a glimpse of reality in the fractures or paradoxes of the idealist corpus. Have to finish the book before I can give my complete verdict though, but as it stands Zizek has been surpassed by the frontier soldiers of SR.
Capitalism - Desire – Ecology. It’s not an eternal philosophical problem, it’s a constellation of untimely philosophical, ecological, psychological, economical and political problems intertwining into the deadlock that is the abovementioned triad, thus generating the biggest hyperobject (to speak with T. Morton) of today: global warming. The first part of the triad feeds on the third, the second being the mediating force that connects the others. The human being: Capitalism runs AWOL on nature. But it’s not capitalism that lies at the root of the problem (though it’s political side-effects and ramifications certainly makes a way out of the deadlock harder), not when the psychological complexities that generates human desire is situated in the very heart of capitalism’s engine, the desire that fuels both the growing of capital itself and the consumer in its behaviour. Not to say that capitalism doesn’t generate new desires, we all know it does. Your desire for that new gadget is even very REAL, nevertheless, the desire in it self is not a necessity or something that could not be otherwise, look to your grandparents and what they desired in their lives=watch the extreme plasticity of your own desires and your wants).
With Zapffe we could maybe also add the bi0logical dimension as a part of the problem. What is the human being? A drive, a desire and glutton for the metaphysical All (Remember Marx: a commodity is polished with metaphysical luster)? Not just that; With Zapffe humanity is also a simultaneous excess and lack of intelligence, an evolutionary freak, clever enough to build great systems and worlds, but stupid enough to forget the transcendental condition that sustains it; the ecology. So the triad is sorta like our 200.000 BC and our 1789 put together. It might destroy us, or we might outlive it, coming out of it totally changed.
I’m very happy today cause I got a phonecall from my brother a couple of hours ago telling me that a good friend of ours has finally recieved his residence permit from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration! What I’m not so happy about is that it took them over ten (!!!) years to make this decision and finally grant my friend a permit. My friend came as a kurdish refugee from Iraq and The Directorate of Immigration grouped him together with other kurdish refugees, the so-called “MUF group”. The case has been nuts, with plenty of ugly political and bureaucratic sides (you can read about it here), and I surely hope that no refugee would have to wait as long as my friend did. My mom only had to live here for seven years to get a Norwegian passport!
Not much activity here these days, unfortunately. Work keeps me pretty busy, plus I’ve basically stopped reading (not entirely true, but not far from it). And you know how it goes, no input=no output, right? Never believed in the possibility of having causa sui thoughts or ideas. You might believe that they came out of nowhere, but in reality you just unconsciously placed yourself in a fertile position for nice thoughts to grow.
So I continue my zazen practice every day, and that’s still good. I think it has some affinities to the abovementioned point, though as always; it’s to early for me to say something definite on this. I know there is supposed to be no point behind zazen, but that major issue aside: there is a way of displacing yourself, manipulating yourself by doing nothing. You can still manipulate yourself without a clear end in sight, right? Some weeks ago, I saw this one program about a quite new-agey swedish tibetean buddhist woman. She talked about how meditation is all about practicing towards your own death. Now there are alot of different things to be said about that, but it made me think about the ways meditation-practices might be like active manipulations of a freudian death drive. So that while some might believe that meditation is all about regulating the pleasure principle and the Eros (and it is), why not see it the other way around? As a way of regulating self-destructive tendencies by actively acting inorganic and thus luring the death drive into a new field where it is less…destructive? Just a thought.
Oh, and Misfits is a cool band. Plenty of Thanatos going down there, I guess. But I just love how they combine these horror lyrics with sweet, fifties (almost doowop) melodies. “Last Caress” being the ultimate example. It adds to the lyrics intensity.
Just a brief observation: Listening to an old Saint Etienne song (“He’s on the phone”..fab pop music) I was struck by the sudden appearance of a French guy going off about something in French. I don’t know how many records I’ve heard that uses this “trick”. My girlfriend said something about it being especially popular during the 90′s. While it would be interesting to find out why so many artists puts samples of French in their songs (I guess it is all about making the music sensual or artsy, playing on the common associations around the French language, “Je t’aime” being the prototype) I want to look at it from another angle; As I don’t understand French, the words just become sounds really. Sort of like an additional instrument. Does it make sense to say that someone is “playing French” in a song?
Here is the parody: