So it’s been over a year since a post. It’s almost as if I had a kid in the interim and also culture has been so wretched what with all the internet-ing and self-self-self-promotional posturing and poverty of thought that why not retreat into a nice home life of a good (hot) woman and a small kid to carry around in order to make you see differently/newly contextualized your own relationship to your own parents, in regards especially to what you mean and have meant to them all this time.
Everyone’s getting older and you see this now and that’s ok but then from this new point (of understanding) how do you sit and position yourself to offer up anything? (I.e., also what’s the point?) A year of life and birth and death. Also some snot-nosed kid running a show in the middle of nowhere telling me after a set during which admittedly I lost the audience a half-hour through that “you simply cannot, ever, say [a particular word].” But are we really at this fucking point still? Can we not see how as someone in the arts/ideas/thinking/expression I simply cannot assent to such an idea? That this is Neanderthal talk? That it’s a waste and regression and taking-up-of-my-time and why the hell do I have to fall into this particular period of absolute intellectual vacuity when in my prime (maybe a little post-prime)?!?
Anyway, from the book Great 20th Century Jewish Philosophers (A Reader in Jewish Existentialism), I found a passage I like from the preface to the section of Lev Shestov (1866-1938) selections:
Though he as enjoyed a very substantial reputation in Continental philosophical circles for more than half a century, Lev Shestov is still relatively unknown in America and England, even among professional philosophers and theologians. Several reasons suggest themselves for this. First of all, until quite recently little of his work had appeared in English translation. It is true that English versions of three of his early books [named here] were published, but these seem to have made little impression when they appeared, and they have long since gone out of print. Secondly, Shestov founded no school and had no real disciples, with the one exception of the brilliant Rumanian-born Jewish poet and essayist Benjamin Fondane, who died in the gas chambers of Birkenau. True to the existentialist tradition, Shestov denied that he had any clearly defined philosophy that could simply be handed on to students and appropriated by them. Thirdly, Shestov’s thought is difficult and unpopular. To the reader who looks to philosophy for guidelines in the conduct of life he has little to offer; to one who seeks moral edification he provides nothing; and the analytically inclined will find little that is of interest to them in his work. Fourthly, Shestov is stubbornly and unrelentingly anti-modern. The gods of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—-science, technology, the idea of historical progress, autonomous ethics—are for him nothing but vain and destructive idols.
How can you not love this man (or marvel at his still remaining relatively unknown in America and England? Probably, too, in Continental philosophical circles, really)! Anyway, I think he goes on to write that philosophy took a wrong turn at Thales.
To come to end almost with an excerpt of Shestov’s:
The business of philosophy is to teach man to live in uncertainty—man who is supremely afraid of uncertainty, and who is forever hiding himself behind this or the other dogma. More briefly, the business of philosophy is not to reassure people, but to upset them. [Not that I would end on that.]
That’s for that little shit who ran that little show.