Flotsam 1

Posted by on September 14th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

 

“Just Your Opinion”

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and the career of Dr. Mabuse illustrate the grave but transitory realization of early 20th-century European society that the inmates had mutinied and control over modern science’s continent-wide asylums had been usurped by the pathological: “Modern literature — prescriptions written by patients,” remarked Karl Kraus.: Mein Kampf, The Ego and Its Own, The Third Reich, and the murderously wicked fraud Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Two and a half millennia ago Plato recognized that self-indulgent and self-interested idiotia, the decay of societal and political culture into predatory and self-disintegrative Babel, had become febrile and epidemic in Athens, and The Republic was his effort at restoring hierarchic order into the hands of a competent and sober “doctor” against this plague of parasitism. But present-day sociopaths and psychopaths are many times more sophisticated and organized than any distraught, concerned and questioning individual: ideologies prepare them with virtual manuals of routinized forms of self-defense. Even clear-minded critics are able to be shamed out of their right to see and say what is anomalous and contrarian. For it is fundamentally “in bad taste” to say critical things against other people’s beliefs or claims or fallacious reasonings, things so true as to be utterly unanswerable; and it is “unhelpful” and “unfair” to say things that reflect ill on the secret motives of reactionaries and plutocrats.

— Democratism has been trained in this way to castrate itself, to tolerate only the perspectives and tactics of those reeking with money and power. The dysculture or ensconced irrationalisms of democratism will sense that something “aristocratic” and self-righteous, something unswervingly rational and authoritative, is being said, and all of this is necessarily hostile to the spirit of relativism and opinionation and the “live and let live” tone of adaptability to peer-group trends and fashions. From its side, of course no power elite has ever believed for even a minute in “live and let live” for its critics.

One of the many ways in which modern dysculture dysvalues “mind” and “acuity” is by promulgating a code of (manageably) polite subjectivism: Democratism believes in keeping the world safe for sophists and for the pliable, plastic mentalities that are sophists’ licit prey. The mindless japing, the mockery against all theory and practice of “truth” has this ultimate significance: Our society defends in this way its own general right, and the unspecified rights of opportunist predators, to be free to twist and squirm and fabricate some unctuous rationalizing lie to lubricate its “elusiveness,” its exemption from all strictures that would make it criticizable in terms of principles or categories or criteria of “truth.” Moderns have long ago been “sophisticated,” fumigated against fairy-tales like childish belief in “the truth”: modern Pilates for their own mental hygiene can’t wash their hands frequently enough and dismiss all extra-ideological considerations with “What is truth?”

“Kindly respect our imperative privilege of self-deception and self-delusion, and of mendacity toward others, if you have any civility at all in you. Your depredations against our ecocidal practices are downright hurtful.”

 

Kronos

Sub specie aeternitatis: “under the aspect or from the standpoint of eternity.” We flow along with the torrent of time, adapting our minds to its transient and ever-erasing certainties. Never noticing that as we flow it is consuming us, dissolving us tracelessly into the same thing as its diluent. In the end we are gone long before we are gone.

 

The Pseudoculture Of Pseudofreedom

How much more insidious than pious fraud is Cartesian fraud, the flattering and thoughtless presumption that moderns just because they are moderns share in a thoroughly “critical” culture?

What is it, to doubt? For moderns this is merely a painless and collective negative species of faith, a wholesale vacuum where not just belief but also wisdom and rationality and integrity and sanity once were socketed. Being purged of all philosophical and perspectival finesse, moderns are in truth subcritical, unable even to comprehend what an abysmal and Sisyphean task it is to learn how to assume an ever-vigilant responsibility of critical quality controls over one’s presuppositions, criteria of judgment, convictions, values, etc. On the one hand, moderns are assailed by a more osmotic and ubiquitous tide of calculated stimuli than any previous people in history; and on the other, they are more pathetic, more unresisting, more desperate to be gulled than any other.

To be modern is to be conditioned to a blithe self-pathos, a sleepwalk through life: It is not to understand the profound differences between truly strong and self-honest critical intelligence and (1) mere anxiety over having to confront the imperative or fated issues of life, (2) a gross and abysmal cultural poverty taking the form of an illiteracy in the greatest ideas and perennial issues of life, (3) the self-unsensed “awesome power of the negative” that deploys an attitude of apathy or nescience or denial to repel all that is offensive to its illusions, (4) the utterly generic deformities of organized illusion and delusion over the psyche and consciousness, (5) the slavish need to capitulate and belong to some life-uterus that will think and digest and provide for oneself, and all other long-ago institutionalized arrangements for abstracting one from the traumas that make authentic existence possible. These and other aggressive vices pass for “critical culture” or illusionless secularity to moderns.

The quintessential function of modern “skepticism” — the facile, effortless and cost-free “de omnibus dubitandum est” that is the bottom-line of the Cartesian worldview — is to serve as a way of declaring oneself a cultural and philosophical know-nothing, unfit to think about issues and questions beyond the reach of the painless acceptances of “common sense.” To “doubt” in these blithering ways means thus the very opposite of living the “examined life” — it means dissociating oneself from the conscientious and connoisseurial tasks of having to test and evaluate the claims and preconceptions out of which dyscultural modern opinions and their nondescript and neutralized “positionless positions” are composed. Modernity, a contrivance of once-energetic and -Apollonian Enlightenment philosophies, has become a dungeon of scientized allergies to all philosophy as such. Just as the revolution of modern capital and corporatism arose in cultures naturally predisposed to the vices of Mammon and its Scroogian mentality — England, Scotland, Germany, etc. — so too the U.S. was privileged to serve as a laboratory just because of its rampant know-nothingism, its parochial ipsilateralism and vacuity of culture.

 

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One Response to “Flotsam 1”

  1. Jason M. says:

    Why include “The Ego and Its Own” amongst “Mein Kampf,” “The Third Reich,” and “Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” It seems philosophically antithetical to those works. Also, if you’re specifically speaking to a “realization of early 20th-century European society,” then why include this text from 1845 as such an example of “realization?” Just curious, as it seems incongruous. Thanks.