Krzysztof Ziarek on the Janus face of information.
The encounter of being in terms of power is thus coded, one could say "literally," into the prevalence of informational codes as the contemporary conduits of power. It is linked in an essential way to the metaphysical tonality of language, which distills language down to its supposed informational essence. Being doe not happen here as an event that gives but instead opens up into an informational code, intrinsically predisposed to manipulation, that is, predisposed to be at the disposal of power. Being here has no words, only signs, which, in spite of the multiplicity of languages, appear to be all reducible to two, to the binary code of informational operations. At the time when being appears to be the most loquacious it has ever been, disclosing everywhere and everything into potential informational value and transmitting information with unprecedented speed and on a global scale, it seems to be simultaneously losing its ability to say anything beyond the stutter of 0 and 1. The Janus face of information: information is power affecting all; information says very little, almost nothing, repeating ones and zeros ever more efficiently.
Figure/Ground Communication interviews Richard Capobianco.
[W]e must be careful to note that when he is speaking about Being in an originary and fundamental way he strictly uses the names Being itself (Sein selbst), Being as such (Sein als solches), Being as Being (Sein als Sein), and for a time, especially in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Beyng (Seyn). These are privileged names in Heidegger’s universe of terms, and they mark the same Ur-phenomenon as the Greek words physis, aletheia, the primordial Logos, hen, along with his own terms Ereignis, Lichtung, and Es gibt. So, while it is certainly true to say that Heidegger moved beyond “being” insofar as “being” is understood as “beingness” (the timeless “form” or “essence” that was the core concern of the pre-modern metaphysical tradition of thinking), the textual evidence is perfectly clear that Heidegger never moved beyond the thinking of Being itself (Being as such, Being as Being, Beyng).
Handwriting has had its defenders even before Facebook was making us lonely: Martin Heidegger, the uncheerful philosopher, thought that the typewriter was a homewrecker, inserting itself between the hand and the word. Pages were no longer being written, he scowled, they were merely typed.
Writing? He had writing? Why, in my day, we were glad to have pictograms.
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Sunday, June 16, 2013
Tao Ruspoli's Being-in-the-world is now on YouTube.
With Hubert Dreyfus, Charles Taylor, Albert Borgmann, Mark Wrathall, Taylor Carman, John Haugeland, Iain Thomson, and Sean Kelly.
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Saturday, June 15, 2013
In LARB, N. Katherine Hayles reviews Mark C. Taylor's Rewiring the Real.
“Nothing” here, as in House of Leaves, denotes not a mere absence but a powerful presence that, in Heidegger’s neologism, “nihilates.” Nothing in this sense, Heidegger argues, marks the limits of the thinkable — a limit that serves as the condition of possibility for thinking anything at all. Taylor relates this limit to the constitution of self-consciousness, when “the subject turns back on itself by becoming an object to itself.” “As such, the structure of self-relation constitutive of self-conscious subjectivity presupposes the activity of self-representation,” and this in turn implies, as with all representations, a point where representation fails. This limit, according to the Heideggerian logic Taylor evokes, is also that which makes representation possible. All that can be said of it is that it consists of what cannot be represented, which is to say, the nothing.
Popmatters reviews Charles Yu's Sorry. Please. Thank you. Stories.
What is the nature of reality? Does selfhood exist, or is it an imaginary social construction? To what extent am I truly free? These are important questions that philosophers such as Baudrillard have helped us postmoderns to puzzle out. But Yu’s stories suggest that perhaps they are not as important as saying “sorry” or “please” or “thank you” or “I missed you”.
Understanding may be less vital than simply being. And being, Heidegger reminds us, is always being-with-others.
If being is always being-with-others, did Mowgli exust? How about Philoctetes on Lemnos?
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Scott McLemee reviews a book about a painting of Descartes.
At the start of a course of lectures on Aristotle in the 1920s, Martin Heidegger made a terse remark about the relevance of biography to the philosopher’s task when considering the work of a predecessor. “Regarding the personality of a philosopher,” he said, “our only interest is that he was born at a certain time, that he worked, and that he died."
The rest is gossip – interesting, perhaps, but a diversion of no serious import. Heidegger’s statement expresses the attitude in its purest and most severe form, with a hint of disdain for the public outside the auditorium. Such was the default attitude for the German mandarin professor of the day. (Heidegger gave the lecture far too early for us to assume any taint of rationalization by someone who joined the Nazis in 1933 and held a membership card for a dozen years.)
What would he have made of Steven Nadler’s The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes? It is, in effect, the biography of a painting. It does not grapple with René Descartes’s role in the history of Being. It tells us how we know what the philosopher looked like. One imagines Heidegger holding the book up to show his students, then throwing it out the window.
Having had a remarkable relation to thunder and lightning all his life, Heidegger could hardly tear himself away from Klee's Bunter Blitz (Colorful Lightning).
It reminded us of the fir tree that lightning had struck down just on the upper side of the hut above Todtnauberg. The little gouache Ein Tor (A Gate), painted in 1939, the year of Klee's death, brought a deep silence upon Heidegger.
After a while he said in a somber tone, "This is the gate through which we all must at some time pass: death."