Friday, June 04, 2010

Journal 04.06.10

I´ve been too exhausted for the last couple of days, sleeping for long hours and unable to rise from the thick slumber that I am overcome by, but then the results couldn´t be called exactly bad, because I am allowing myself that kind of weakness, that kind of “I am feeling myself and I might not be quite alright”, and sometimes when I awake from such periods of slumber I feel not exactly happy, but quite more prepared to face the world than when I simply let the days slip me by without getting enough sleep and accumulating despair with deprivation of sleep so that both could masterfully blend into that exhausting sleepless depression that I know very well and from which I suffered only a few weeks ago. For some strange reason, the month has started quite alright and I´m in no right to complain, or at least I´m in no mood to complain. I can´t help about being suspicious regarding the job offer but I have to go through with it and see where it leads, at the very least it will be a couple of hours out there in the world every day, which is always better than the confinement inside the bitterness and total lack of confidence in the world that there bitches seem to have. I´ve always thought that I´m a very negative person and that somehow it´s my selling line, however I discover how far from the truth that is, and perhaps it has to do with the fact that I don´t have to cook and clean and half-starve everyday but still… I´ve been through things much worse than just the fickleness of misery: Picking food from the neighbor´s disposals, walking around markets at night fishing for potatoes to boil and stealing grapes from the supermarket. But this is what there´s, them and I, and I certainly have some reasons to rejoice even if only on the surface, even if what underlies the whole event is something immensely sad and unbearable, some reality to which I´m always turning a blind eye, even if this is so, well, you can´t wholly abandon the idea of beauty in the world without forsaking the possibility of truth. Yesterday it was bizarre to go into the city, to ride on the buses and have all that patience to wait for the traffic to clear up, in a different day I would´ve found it just too painful to bear and while I´m not quite starving I feel that my lack of “self-funding” can only serve to exaggerate my own sense of stagnation and alienation, particularly when the reality of the material world is presented to you in a fashion as weak and miser as in this poor stupid country. You might well succeed or you might well not, so I don´t think it makes too much of a difference in either case, as long as you try. It seems to me like a lot of time to wait for another four weeks to hear back from Jerusalem and Nottingham and even though I´m sort of optimistic, I´m also prepared for the worst; I would like to think it is completely unlikely that they say no to my over worded proposals but I know that kind of people; it is not the great intellectuals who peruse the stuff and make the decisions but most likely some dull illiterate bureaucrat that might even have a Ph.D. degree and call himself professor, not for that reason he would be made into a thinker the same way the frog is made into the prince. For some reason I thought about Gabi Motzkin because he wears always those stupid ghetto-Jew neckties that one as a member of the Judenrat, would wear in order to go and negotiate a few Jews with the Nazis; that´s as inspiring as the neckties get. However this is wrong impression because Gabi is one of those bureaucrats and self-proclaim whatever’s, but he´s a very great man of letters even though I can´t get myself to like him that much, especially after the scandalous correspondence with Mara. I don´t get why a place like the academia has to pry so much into the lives of the others, as if it would diminish or maximize the potential of their intellectual work, it is that kind of little town gossip in the no man´s land where there´s no other entertainment. I remember this from Efraim as well, who would comment the pettiest details about the lives of his colleagues and at the same time was freaking out each time he would even imagine for the slightest fraction of a second that his colleagues would find out about his homosexuality. My case would be a little different if you may! Only because what I´m hiding is not just a gossipy story about something but a dark past I don´t know so much about and a lot, a lot of misdeeds committed against a lot of people. But they shall never know, it´s too humongous to be dealt with from the academia of course, at best they blush with the slightest hint to someone´s promiscuity so I don´t even get to imagine what they would make out of my life. I guess the prying nature of academics perhaps has to do with the fact of realizing that what one´s doing is really not so important: Too many professors and too few thinkers. Then it makes perfect sense in a wicked manner: Why then would someone like Efraim not actually be an intellectual in the most radical and other-worldly sense and why would someone like Sandra not actually be a full-fledged professor full of speeches and pedagogic maneuvers? The explanations for this are completely self-evident: Efraim calls himself a “sober historian of intellectual ideas” which is such a misnomer because can there be anything sober about history or about ideas? There´s nothing more tragic, inebriated and disrupted than history and ideas; you could be sober about fabric for clothes and dishware even, sober about shoes and about casual sex, sober about the traffic and about building a house, but God, sober about history? A sober historian? I believe that historians are suffering so much more from diremption than philosophers do, because philosophy at least is always looking at the same blank spot in the wide cosmos – eternity or the lack thereof, it is a struggle but a constant one; history however doesn´t have any blank spots, just buckets of blood and glory being spilled at each other time after time, the blood blends with the glory and the glory sucks from the blood as if it were a toddler. That´s as sober as history can get. On the other hand it is pointless to speak about Sandra because there´s so little I could add to her great sense of scholarship and life, to her amazing thoughts that burst out in the world as boiling water coming out of a geyser on a morning in the summer. I think she´s the model upon which the idea of the philosophical radical must be shaped, and not the all too fashionable talk of academics, so radical in themselves as to choose between a morning Marxism and an evening debauchery of prostitutes, cafés and champagne in which they of course can spot no antinomy whatsoever, they´re after all only “paid employees” in the bureaucracy of higher education. “I only did what I had to do” – that sounds like a typical statement from a professor of political science – regardless of the kind of political regime he happens to live in, it can resound anywhere from Weimar to Damascus. It is as if antinomies are only spotted from 9 am to 5 pm from Monday through Friday. If that´s what they call philosophy nowadays, well, I guess I am so much not a philosopher. The profession should instead be called “part-time technical writer of academic papers” and then what would be the odds to find this kind of contradictions in the inner dynamics of one´s life? None at all really, everyone would be clear about the facts in advance. Not that prostitutes, cafés and champagne is a bad thing, but why then to preach so much intellectual sobriety as if there were such a thing as being intellectually sober? Isn´t this kind of Aristotelian sobriety the most resolute renunciation to the gifts of worldliness? It´s not a philosophical attitude but merely the theological (but so completely prosaic, un-poetic and epistemologically formatted) resignation to a consolation that such philosophy can´t offer to anyone without having previously sacrificed experience and truth

I am wondering now if you could write a philosophy of history without excluding yourself to the vantage point of the spectator of a puppet show. I think perhaps this kind of philosophy of history is called monotheism but comes at the incredibly high price of sacrificing personhood for the sake of an otherness to total as to be completely distinguishable from God´s and the world´s.

Saint Paul: ο νυν καιρος (the univocal source for the Benjaminean «Jetztzeit”)

Agamben on Gossip: This does not mean that gossip cannot be interesting; on the contrary, to the extent that it entertains a nontrivial relation to truth that eludes the problem of verification and falsification and claims to be closer to truth than factual adequation, gossip is certainly a form of art. The peculiarity of its epistemological status lies in the fact that in itself it accounts for the possibility of an error that does not entirely undermine the definition of truth. Intelligent gossip therefore interests us independently of its veritable character. That said, to treat gossip as though it were information is truly an unforgivable lack of refinement.

Pauline use of the Greek word for slave: In tracing out the semantic history of the term doulos, the New Testament lexicons habitually contrast the predominantly juridical meaning that the term acquired in the classical world –which technically refers to the slave inasmuch as he is subjected to the power of the dominus-depotes (if the Greeks wanted to stress the generic relation of a slave´s belonging to the oikos of his owner they would use the term oiketes) –to the markedly religious connotation that the corresponding Hebrew word ebed (like the Arabic abd) acquires in the Semitic world. The opposition does not aid our understanding of how doulos is used technically in the Pauline text, for, in Paul, doulos refers to a profane juridical condition and at the same time refers to the transformation that this condition undergoes in its relation to the messianic event.

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