, Simon Critchley on John Gray
's latest loathing.
Such is the exhilaratingly anti-humanist, dystopian, indeed Ballardesque, vision of a drowned world at the heart of Gray’s work: when the earth is done with humans, it will recover and the blip of human civilization will be forgotten forever. Global warming is simply one of the periodic fevers that the earth has suffered during its long, nonhuman history. It will recover and carry on. But we cannot and will not.
Where does this leave us? Although Gray is critical of Heidegger’s residual humanism (animals are poor in world and rocks and stone are worldless, Martin insists), he is very close to a line of thought in a collection of Heidegger’s fragments published as Overcoming Metaphysics. Written between 1936 and 1946, these are Heidegger’s bleakest and most revealing ruminations, in my view. At their center stands an all-too-oblique critical engagement with National Socialism filtered through the lens of his willful reading of Nietzsche. Heidegger concludes his meditations with the words, “No mere action will change the world.” The statement finds its rejoinder in the title of Heidegger’s posthumously published 1966 interview with Der Spiegel: “Only a god can save us.” For Heidegger and Gray, there is no god, unfortunately, and we cannot save ourselves. It’s the belief that we can save ourselves that got us into our current mess. If political voluntarism is the motor of modernity’s distress, then the task becomes how we might think without the will.
I thought it was Ballardian. What next, Heideggeresque?
Also in LARB
, Adam Kotsko on Agamben
. How is it LA got the best RB? It compensates for all the crap films they flog.