enowning
Friday, March 06, 2015
 
In Spiked, Tim Black explains the enduring appeal of Heidegger.
Environmentalists and avowed lefties love to spew out sub-Heideggerian theses on the irrational rationality of economic development, of people’s duped immersion in an unsustainable way of life, and of our impending climate-driven comeuppance. But is there not another echo of Heidegger’s thought in that strange, obsessive antipathy towards Israel which is so prevalent among the right-on and left-leaning? If there’s a stench of anti-modernity among too many of today’s self-styled radicals, is there not also a whiff of that peculiar brand of Heidegger-style anti-Semitism, too? Strangely enough, then, the Heidegger case sheds light on a contemporary species of anti-Semitism. It’s not the biological version, in which certain races are deemed superior to others. It’s not even the ‘Jews control the world’ one, although that persists. No, it’s the sense that at some level, Jews, in the form of Israel, embody modernity, embody, that is, the very things – the cruel rationality, the uprootedness, the technological ambition, the comfort with capitalism – that so many just love to loathe. Hating Jews, then, still goes hand in hand with an intense disillusionment with modernity.
 
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
 
In The New Inquiry, Kurt Newman reviews Steven Shaviro’s The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism.
The Universe of Things also attends concertedly to the work of Graham Harman. In particular, Shaviro shines a light on the usefulness of Harman’s Heideggerian insight that the image of the “broken tool” grants us access to the inner world of objects. “When a tool, or a thing, fails to function as expected,” Shaviro writes, “the excess of its being is suddenly revealed to us.”
What is this “excess of being?” It might be easiest to think of it as a mathematical remainder. The “excess of being” is what is left after we subtract things from themselves. In the aftermath of the many revolutions of modern physics, we know that if you take, say, a chair, and subtract from the universe that chair, you are not left with nothing. The “something” that is left over—however resistant it is to analysis—is the “excess of being.” A scientist would likely tell us that the “something” merely alerts us to a problem with the way we have framed the question. A psychoanalyst might situate this remainder at the level of fantasy or invoke the language of object relations. A deconstructionist might point to the “hauntological” traces of the chair and its ghostly afterlives.
 
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
 
Tristan Garcia on death, the end of presence.
Unlike the materialist or naturalist, the idealist makes death the end of being. Death no longer has anything to do with living things, but everything to do with the Idea. Death becomes the condition by which existent things, and not merely living things, can situate themselves outside their identity as human animals. Here, death belongs only to those who think about death, who are conscious of it, or who have an Idea of it. Other entities, like beasts, plants, and amoebas, merely ‘perish’ (according to Martin Heidegger).
But whoever contrasts death with life or with subjective being forgets that death is neither the end of a life nor the end of an individuated subject, but the end of an individuated life’s presence. Dying is irreducible to an operation of organised living things, which come undone, decompose, and recompose. Dying cannot be elevated to the idea of the end, nothingness, or the absolute. Neither a function of the living nor an ontological end, death is the event of an absence of life’s presence.
Death is what can only be absent.
Pp. 410-11, Form and Object: A Treatise on Things
 
 
Yesterday in the Comical of Higher Education, Richard Wolin, an American (ethnic cleansing of natives, racial slavery, mass incarceration of poor and uneducated) intellectual, judges the mauvaise foi of others.
The most recent act of bad faith on the part of Heidegger’s defenders has been to claim that anti-Jewish elements are present in the work of earlier German thinkers as well, such as Kant and Hegel, suggesting that it is unfair to single out Heidegger for harboring anti-Semitic convictions that were widespread. However, such claims are misleading in two important respects: (1) The Black Notebooks make clear that anti-Semitism occupies a systematic position in Heidegger’s thought, which was not the case with Kant and Hegel; and (2) Kant’s and Hegel’s thoughts were predicated on the notion of the "autonomy of reason," and, therefore, unlike Heidegger’s, remained unserviceable for the ends of National Socialism.
Wolin's notion that the core of Heidegger's contribution is contained in the Black Notebooks's anti-semitic remarks merely indicates that after decades of criticizing Heidegger, he still doesn't get what's original about Heidegger's way of thinking.

Wolin is right that Heidegger was a part of the "convenient rationalization for German nonresponsibility". As such, Heidegger is a banal and idiotic figure, just like the characters Fassbinder staged in his BRD trilogy, Lili Marleen, and Berlin Alexanderplatz, who shirk responsibility and so are complicit in the horror.

Heidegger's writings on German-ness aren't of much interest to anyone who is not a German. No one else but specific Germans would think Germans are a master race with some special historical destiny. Nor do most readers of Heidegger think that Bavarian peasants are ontologically privileged, despite the meister's prejudices for his location. Commenting on German-ness is a feature of most German philosophers' works. Once you get past what's noteworthy and original about them, and read the source materials, they are all concerned with defining German-ness. And similarly, they all have trouble fitting Jews into their national narratives. Heidegger's anti-semitisms is not a particularly acute case in that company.

The notion that Kant and Hegel "remained unserviceable for the ends of National Socialism" is easily disproven. Alfred Rosenberg, the actual Nazi philosopher (hanged at Nuremberg), praised Kant ("The euthanasia of Judaism is the pure moral religion.", Streit der Fakultaten, 1798). Alfred Baeumler, the Reich's director of the Institute for Political Pedagogy wrote his dissertation on Kant. Reichsminister Hans Frank spoke of Hegel ("The Jewish multitude was bound to wreck His [Christ] attempt to give them the consciousness of something divine, for faith in something divine, something great, cannot make its home in a dunghill", The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate, 1799) as Germany's greatest political philosopher. Shouldn't a historian know that?
 
Monday, March 02, 2015
 
In-der-Blog-sein

Not Philosophy on the framing of the Black Notebooks.
Despite any allegiance he gave to the regime in 1933, despite any enduring belief in the principles of National Socialism as he saw them or wanted to see them, and despite his refusal to take responsibility in the manner of apology, the Holocaust was for Heidegger the furthest thing from a celebration of Being that one can imagine, representing a categorical lack of understanding of human freedom; and thus it is not “compatible,” if we must use the word, with his “philosophy.” Being totally withdrawn, absent in the sense of the greatest of that which is possible for the human in their being to be, denied. The natural and human forces of life squeezed through the technological machinery of war. The Jew was deprived of a natural, human death, and thus of life, by being forced into death by technological conversion. It is, indeed, an assault upon humanity and a violence done to the beings that were already present there with their own purposes for their lives.
 
 
Christian Fuchs on implications for the reception of Heidegger in media and communication studies.
There is a logical link between the Black Notebooks' anti-Semitism and the analysis of technology in Being and Time and The Question Concerning Technology. The first publication provides the missing link and grounding for the second and the third. Heidegger’s works have had significant influence on studies of the media, communication, and the Internet. Given the anti-Semitism in the Black Notebooks, it is time that Heideggerians abandon Heidegger, and instead focus on alternative traditions of thought. It is now also the moment where scholars should consider stopping to eulogise and reference Heidegger when theorising and analysing the media, communication, culture, technology, digital media, and the Internet.
Political correctness über alles.
 
Sunday, March 01, 2015
 
Where to spend May day.

The 33rd North Texas Heidegger Symposium

Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, 2015
The University of Dallas, Irving, Texas
 
 
The LARB interviews Žižek, who has written a new version of Antigone, to be staged next year.
At the climactic moment of the ferocious debate between Antigone and Creon, the chorus steps forward, castigating both of them for their stupid conflict, which threatens the survival of the entire city. Acting like a kind of comité de salut public, the chorus takes over as a collective organ and imposes a new rule of law, installing people’s democracy in Thebes. Creon is deposed, both Creon and Antigone are arrested, put to trial, swiftly condemned to death and liquidated.
Uncage the chorus! Uncanny the daimon!
 
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

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