Friday, November 21, 2014
Tom McCarthy on the re-release of the Gravity's Rainbow audio book.
“Gravity’s Rainbow,” Thomas Pynchon’s gargantuan parable of rocketry, sex and a whole bunch of other stuff, turned 41 this year — six years older than its author when it was first published. What happens when a novel whose scenes of coprophagia and pedophilia moved Pulitzer trustees to cancel the prize in 1974 (when Pynchon seemed poised to win) eases into middle-aged, canonical respectability? Well, for one thing, it gets an audiobook release. Since the mid-1980s, a George Guidall recording has been floating around, like some mythical lost rocket part — no one had heard it, but all Pynchon fans knew someone who knew someone who had — but in October a new version, authorized and rerecorded and burned onto 30 compact discs — hit the stands.
It'll be nice to have a digital remastering, sans the intrusions of ripped-from-K7 aggravations. Unlike the comforts of vinyl crackle -- nostalgie du analogue -- tape hiss is just annoying. But good as it is, I think the Against the Day audio book is even better.
I kept thinking, as I listened to Guidall, of a line in Heidegger’s “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” where he describes homelessness as the “summons that calls mortals into their dwelling.” Virtually every one of Pynchon’s characters is homeless or displaced, wandering the earth’s great bombed-out Zone in search of some abode: a homeland, house or simply bed to spend the night in (if you like, a coefficient).
Thursday, November 20, 2014
In the Dhaka Daily Star, man is the measure of all time.
German philosopher Heidegger says, “There is no time without man,” [P. 16] while others say there is time beyond measurement—the absolute time.
There is also no light without man, just photon particles flying about.
Stephen Mulhall on the authenticity of replicants.
Deckard’s response to death is inauthentic because it transforms his own death from an (omnipresent) possibility into an actuality: it extinguishes his humanity. So Roy teaches him the difference between possibility and actuality; he allows Deckard (and us) to spend long minutes on the edge of his existence, pushes him to the edge of a real abyss, making death seem unavoidable – and then he rescues him. And he underlines the point of that lesson by making manifest, at the moment of his own death, that he has revelled in his time:
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe: attack-ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
He has lived each moment of his life to the full without denying its transitory place in the ineluctable stream of time; and any such denial would amount to denying the essential structure of human experience as such. It would, moreover, count as a further and more profound failure of acknowledgement to wish to bequeath one’s experiences and memories to others – as if one could outlive oneself, as if one’s moments of consciousness were alienable, as if one’s mortality could be sloughed off. Heidegger understands our relation to our own death as the clearest expression of this truth. He describes it as our ownmost, nonrelational possibility: no one can die another’s death for him, just as no one can die our death for us, and that is precisely what makes our death, when it comes, our ownmost possibility. Roy’s calm and moving last words manifest just this authentic understanding, and they cry out for acknowledgement as such.
P. 38
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Mark T. Conard on interpreting the Coens' Barton Fink.
Because Barton is a Cartesian-like subject, he lives “the life of the mind” and cuts himself off, not only from the common man, the supposed wellspring of his inspiration, but also more and more from life and reality itself. Consequently, he removes himself from any kind of practical engagement with the world and is thus cut off from those networks or contexts of meaning in which equipment is understood and interpreted. Consequently, the things around him lose their meaning and cease to make sense (like the cell phone would for the gladiator). In other words, the elements of the film (like the box or the picture) that resist interpretation aren’t supposed to make sense. That’s the whole point. Indeed, in interviews the Coens themselves reveal that not everything in the movie has a clear-cut meaning: “What isn’t crystal clear isn’t intended to become crystal clear, and it’s fine to leave it at that,” says Ethan Coen; Joel adds, “The question is: Where would it get you if something that’s a little bit ambiguous in the movie is made clear? It doesn’t get you anywhere.” I’m not suggesting, of course, that the brothers had anything like Heideggerian interpretation on their minds as they made the film. Rather, they acknowledge that not everything in the film is interpretable or makes sense, and I’m using Heidegger to suggest a way to understand why those things lack meaning or sense. Again, things in the world must have a network of relations, a context for practical engagement (like an office in which a typewriter is used, or a workshop in which a hammer is employed), in order for them to have sense and meaning. Because Barton lives more and more in his own head (symbolized by his hotel room), cut off from reality and practical engagement with the world, the things around him cease to have sense and meaning. They’re not understandable or interpretable.
P. 191
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Richard Capobianco on the ultimate Ereignis.
The later Heidegger ultimately found in the word Ereignis a way of bringing forth in a particularly vivid way the manifold features of Being itself. From the beginning of his path of thinking, he was concerned to "ground" the metaphysical tradition's core concern with "being(ness)" by bringing into view Being as time -- the movement, the way, in which, by which, through which beings emerge, abide in their "full look," decline, and depart. The word Ereignis makes manifest the Being-way by namely, (1) the "event" or "happening" that is the efflorescence and effulgence of beings coming into (2) their "own" (the eigen of ereignen) and thereby (3) coming out into "full view" to Dasein (ereignen, related to eräugen, literally "to come before the eyes," from the German word for "eye", Auge). This Ereignis of beings, this unfolding process, Heidegger referred to as the singulare tantum in the late 1950s -- the "singular as such," a phrase that no more than reiterated his frequent characterization of Being itself as the "the one," to hen (Greek), das Eine; or as "the one and only," das Einzig-Eine. This "singular" unfolding of beings bears within it a dimension of reserve, but just in case this might be overlooked, he sometimes had recourse to pair Ereignis with the word Enteignis as a reminder. Nevertheless, in the later works Ereignis conveys the simple and quiet but also profound and astonishing "coming to pass" of all things, such as the plum or cherry tree coming into luxuriant bloom -- eventfully, let us say.
P. 21
Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lesley Chamberlain posts about art critic Meyer Schapiro's attack on Heidegger's admiration of van Gogh's boots painting, and Derrida's rebuttal.
What Schapiro didn’t realise, and what quite a few commentators overlook, was that Heidegger was also out to de-Idealize Hegel, as part of his own campaign to undo the hold of traditional metaphysics on creaturely being. Heidegger didn’t destroy and rebuild philosophy in the name of a deprived global proletariat. But he did link conceptual abstraction with the power of technology and ultimately, when he came half-way to his senses, linked it with the ambitions of Hitler. The aim wholly to subordinate nature, and what was natural in human beings, to the totalitarian-mechanistic vision, was both Nazi and Soviet, and both were despicable. Heidegger’s enemy was what even social democracy in the German and Austrian 1920s called ‘The New Man’, homo sovieticus in his Russian guise, who, in Heidegger’s feeling, was no longer capable of an authentic being-here.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Juan Pablo Hernández on presencing.
Both in “Anaximander’s Saying” and in What is Called Thinking?, Heidegger asserts that insofar as τά ὄν is a participle it can be used either as a noun that refers to a Seiende, i.e., a particular being (or even, what-is in general, one may add ), or as a verb that refers to the act of being as such (seiend). Thus, one thing is to refer to a particular being, and a very different one to refer to the act of being that constitutes that particular, or any particular for that matter. The Seinsfrage is hence the question about the act of being, that is to say, the basic act that constitutes what-is. In the formulation ‘the question of being’ we need to hear the verbal sense of the term ‘being’ (be-ing), rather than an ossified noun.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Does your health care suck? Blame the Cartesian "cogito".
Heidegger’s two modes of thinking, calculative and meditative, were used as the thematic basis for this qualitative study of physicians from seven countries (Canada, China, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, & Thailand). Focus groups were conducted in each country with 69 physicians who cared for the elderly. Results suggest that physicians perceived ethical issues primarily through the lens of calculative thinking (76%) with emphasis on economic concerns. Meditative responses represented 24% of the statements and were mostly generated by Canadian physicians whose patients typically were not faced with economic barriers to treatment due to Canada’s universal health care system.
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

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