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Say yes to the world: On Nietzsche and affirmation – Big Think

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There cannot be any comparable sentence in the history of Western thought.

Although it is exactly 148 years old, to this day some still interpret it in a manner contrary to its author's intentions. Nor can one conceal the fact that it brought him an extremely bad reputation. But meanwhile its meaning however ominous it may sound is actually very simple.

The sentence is: "God is dead."

It appeared for the first time in 1882, in The Gay Science by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most important philosophers of modern times. But the world is familiar with it mainly from another of Nietzsche's works, perhaps his most famous, written a year later, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. This very strange, poetic text, full of unusual metaphors and lyrical inspiration, predicts the coming of a new era. Its prophet is to be the eponymous Zarathustra, a figure whose name Nietzsche took from an ancient Persian priest, the creator of Zoroastrianism, one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions. But despite the mystical aura that Zarathustra radiates, his message has nothing to do with conventional religious ideas. Quite the contrary for he announces the death of God. And consequently challenges people to conduct a thorough revaluation of everything they think about the world and about themselves.

But what does 'the death of God' mean? Certainly not death in the literal sense it is not that after aeons of existence a divine being, an old man with a long grey beard who resides in heaven, suddenly ceases to be. Nothing of the kind. The 'death of God' is simply a metaphor for the historical moment whose advent Nietzsche sensed perfectly in advance. The moment when religion both as a prospect from which to perceive reality, and as a specific doctrine, in particular Christianity was bound to undergo irrevocable disintegration.

In Nietzsche's view, these were the ultimate consequences of processes that were set off within Western culture by the age of enlightenment. The new independence of human reason that came about at this time, the creation of the framework of modern science, the departure from the stage of self-incurred immaturity as Immanuel Kant expressed it led to the erosion of the great edifice of the religious view of the world. Humanity had finally produced tools that allowed it to distinguish mythology from knowledge, and by this token to unmask the claims of religious institutions and high priests. Finally it was possible to see that the power and social status they had enjoyed until now was entirely built on phantasmal foundations.

Yet in Nietzsche's day not everyone was aware of this, or rather not everyone was prepared to take it on board. That was why a new, charismatic prophet had to appear, who by referring to religious, prophetic symbols would formulate something like a new gospel. And would fully express man's situation in a world from which by now every last trace of the metaphysical had irrevocably been removed.

What is at the heart of this message? It is most fully expressed by a single word: affirmation. The person whose fortunes no imaginary providence is guarding any more, the person living in a world that was not created by any god and that no god is watching, the person now independent of all the religious institutions that disinherited him of his own power and spontaneity, the person who gets back all the wonderful features and possibilities ascribed until now to a deity only this sort of person has a genuine opportunity to say 'yes' to the world, with all its original meaninglessness, chaos, cruelty and unpredictability. Because only the sort of affirmation that takes account of all this, that does not disguise its meaninglessness with mawkish stories and its cruelty with metaphysical tales of final judgement, actually deserves to be called by that name.

German philosopher and writer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (18441900).

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

But to reach this affirmation, first a person must fully and genuinely become aware of his own situation and draw radical consequences from it. In Nietzsche's view, Christianity was a religion based on resentment, and thus on the sense of dislike or even envy that the weak harbour towards the strong dislike or envy that is institutionalized, harnessed to an entire, complex mythological system, at the centre of which stands a figure of sanctified weakness, humility and modesty. According to Nietzsche, this is nothing other than a systematic means of depriving man of access to his own power, and at the same time it is the perfect way to exalt those who have voluntarily renounced this access. This form of exaltation also has a deeper sense, in that it gives the representatives of religious institutions a guarantee that the believers will be obedient to them, and by this token their position will remain unthreatened. And so the main purpose of this sort of ideology is to restrain those who could by nature pose a genuine threat to the domination of religious institutions.

Whereas Zarathustra brings a new message that allows mankind to break the chains for good and all, and to overthrow the last vestiges of the old order. Vestiges that were not so much material, as rooted in thinking and ethics based on Christian values. This is exactly what is meant by another famous Nietzschean maxim, about 'the revaluation of all values' the profound revision of a moral system that, under the guise of goodness and noble-mindedness, leads above all to slavery.

In any case, the theme of an endless play-off between strength and weakness was, according to Nietzsche, central to the history of humanity long before Christianity became its dominant religion. This is superbly demonstrated by Professor Tadeusz Barto in his latest book, Kltwa Parmenidesa [The Curse of Parmenides]. Nietzsche had already perceived this sort of conflict within Greek culture, which for him was the basic point of departure. It was expressed in various features, including the famous division into what was Dionysian and what was Apollonian: chaos, passion and ecstasy versus structure, rationality and abstract thought.

Nietzsche viewed his own contemporary era through this same prism as a world of people who were at a standstill, entirely cut off from any enlivening sources. Christianity was just one of many factors alongside a taste for danger, a cult of averageness, mediocrity and general indolence responsible for this state of affairs. In a brilliant flash of intuition, perhaps sensing in advance the radical shocks that the 20th century would bring, Nietzsche announced the need for the era of the 'superman' to arrive, someone who would elude all the classifications derived from the old value systems.

A few decades later, the concept of the 'superman' (in German, bermensch) although in actual fact it wasn't entirely clear who exactly he was meant to be would be given a nightmare interpretation by the Nazi movement, whose representatives were eager to refer to Nietzsche's philosophy. This occurred to a vast extent because of his sister, Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche who, as an ardent anti-Semite and nationalist, and also a member of the Nazi Party, thoroughly manipulated her brother's oeuvre and message. The Nazi reception of Nietzsche's texts is one of the most agonizing examples of a profoundly inadequate interpretation of a philosophical work. Nietzsche had nothing in common with the national-socialist ideology if he had lived in the days of Hitler, he would undoubtedly have spoken of him with the utmost contempt.

"In Nietzsche's eyes, the Nazi bermensch," writes Barto in his new book, "would have been a coward, a hidden assassin, the essence of the epitome of weakness regrettable resentment. Moreover, if we trace Hitler's frustrations as recorded in Mein Kampf, when he talks for instance about the Slavic threat in Austria and his other phobias, it is plain to see that this criminal was not the embodiment of strength, but of weakness, which he chose to address by conspiring, manipulating and murdering. This is a textbook example of resentment in action."

Full affirmation of life with its splendour and its cruelty, with everything that prompts horror as well as fascination, with passion as well as order would not actually be full if not for one particular property of the world around us, which in Nietzsche's opinion was also a simple consequence of moving away from thinking in terms of a deity, a final judgement or letting any other metaphysical idea dominate time and creation.

And this property is the eternal return of the same thing. The world is an eternal, but finite whole, declares Zarathustra, in which everything dies and everything is reborn. Thus inevitably, though after an unimaginable length of time, every component of the current situation, all the tiniest elements that have come together to form it, will be repeated in exactly the same way. So there will be no final salvation, liberation, or end of time. Everything will keep happening over and over again ad infinitum. We shall relive our lives a countless number of times, in exactly the same way, second by second, minute by minute, day by day.

We could of course see this as a reason for despair, but we could just as well surrender to it ecstatically. As we are doomed to it anyway, as everything is bound to be repeated anyway, why not endure it with joy and acceptance, asks Nietzsche.

And indeed why not?

Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

Reprinted with permission of Przekrj. Read the original article.

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Say yes to the world: On Nietzsche and affirmation - Big Think

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Nietzsche and his wizards – The Rocky Mountain Goat

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Andru McCracken, Editor

By Andru McCracken, EDITOR

Ive pretty much given up on social media as a sort of vehicle that, by its very existence would somehow help humanity. As it turns out, its mostly just a massive timesuck eating away at what is real, and devouring whats most precious: time. Social media is an endless well of half-truths and flat out lies we like to tell ourselves, a dangerous way to organize ourselves into bubbles, classes, marketing segments. Our profiles there are a projection of the life we really wish we were living. In reality we are glued to our devices losing much of our connection to reality. If the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was made to suffer through this age, he would have probably ranked social media lower than religion and he didnt like religion very much.

But recently, with the help of a friend I stumbled across one teensy little light on the internet: the BC Whiskey Wizards. There I found grown men sharing their fear, anguish, rage and helplessness.

If there is one thing that is notably missing in the boundaryless age of social media it is actual sharing.

The BC Whiskey Wizards feed on Facebook puts a new twist on something as old as time.

Here, men post the things that have got them down, whats got them worried, what they are struggling with, what theyve done about it, and sometimes how their actions have failed.

Sometimes they are just venting, wanting to be heard. Sometimes they are asking for advice. Sometimes they are just grieving a loss or a partner or a friendship.

What unites all of these things in the weird little world of wizards is this: None of these things are supposed to be talked about.

Most of us guys are counselled hard from an early age never to talk about whats weighing on them, our fears, or our weaknesses.

But, maybe in the same way we can type such awful comments on the most mundane things without considering other peoples feelings, social media allows some guys to type out what is actually on their minds and hearts without a filter.

Its not that this is the first time someone has ever attempted to provide solace to guys or to get them to talk. There are lots of programs (in bigger places) to help guys work out their feelings and understand themselves, but what Tommy Gunn-Smith and his friend Ron Tuck have going on in spades is that theyre just two dudes that like whiskey.

Tommy demolishes stuff and ties rebar for a living. Hes not a white collar program manager with a fist full of degrees in psychology. Hes a blue collar dad and step dad trying to keep the peace at home, trying his best not to fight with his wife. And as hes setting up an anonymous whiskey gift service for people down on their luck and going crazy with COVID-19, he happens to notice other men in his position.

He and his friend accidentally built something really big. As big as a hot tub time machine. Every once in a while, the internet spits out another gamechanger. Wikipedia was one in my books (hey its not perfect, but its pretty damn good). This is another.

The fact that the program got started by guys who thought it would be cool to have a bottle of whiskey and a couple joints show up on their doorstep once in a while is a big reason the project has merit.

Getting answers Like anything, your mileage will vary. There is an awful lot of, emmm, un-professional advice.

The answers on how do I get to sleep range from read a book to get stoned and drunk before bed.

One dad of a four year old asked how if the F could he get his four year old to sleep and I was in the middle of typing an answer (I also have a four year old at home) and I suddenly realized, I dont have a bleeping clue.

Mansplaining here comes with the territory.

But even though all the answers arent genius, the fact that men of my generation are getting the opportunity to say what it is that is grinding on them? Thats new.

If Nietzsche were alive for this one, Im thinking hed be getting a lot of relationship advice and even better Ill bet some dudes would drop off a basket of whiskey and weed.

Whiskey and weed really wont solve anything, mostly they just complicate issues that are complicated enough, but having a chance to talk about the issues that are weighing you down with people that will listen, thats really good. And even in this connected age, its hard to find.

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Nietzsche and his wizards - The Rocky Mountain Goat

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An augmented reality art exhibition will debut on the University of Chicago campus – Time Out Chicago

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Artist Jenny Holzer uses a mobile app to "project" quotes from the university's core curriculum on campus buildings.

While some Chicago museums have reopened their doors, many Chicagoans have been enjoying the city's bestpublic artfrom a distance. Anew work commissioned by the University of Chicago will present even more outdoormasterpieces to take in. Today, theprivate university announced that a public-facing work by Jenny Holzer (a UChicago alumnus) will go on display in October, using augmented reality to create virtual projections on buildings throughout the school's Hyde Park campus.

"YOU BE MY ALLY" uses 29 excerpts from readings that have been included in the University of Chicago's core curriculumthe set of liberal arts courses that all students must complete during their time at the college. Holzer selected the quotes used in the project in collaboration with the university's faculty and students, including passages written by W. E. B. Du Bois, Helen Keller, Toni Morrison, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato and Virginia Woolf.

When the project launches on October 5, you'll be able to access a web-based augmented reality app with your phone and view animated "projections" of the selected passages on historically significant buildings throughout the University of Chicago campus, such as the Cobb Lecture Hall, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. If you're not in Hyde Park, you're not out of luckthe app will allow you to "project" the quotes on your immediate surroundings.

The texts selected by Holzer will also be displayed on trucks with LED displays driving through Hyde Park, Chicago's South Side and the Loop on October 5 and 6. Those same trucks will drive through Chicago on October 24 and 30 displaying "nonpartisan get-out-the-vote" messages, some of which were written by University of Chicago students.

Holzer's augmented reality artwork will be viewable (in Chicago and elsewhere) through November 22.

-These notable Chicago restaurants and bars have now permanently closed-Take a look around Time Out Market Chicago, now open in the West Loop-How Chicago museums are welcoming back guests under new safety guidelines-Beloved Logan Square hotspot East Room is now a wine bar with a colossal patio-A drive-through lights display is coming to Morton Arboretum this fall

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Ressentiment: He Hates, Therefore He Is | Chronicles – A Magazine of American Culture

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A few days ago, rioters in Bostondefaced the Robert Shaw Memorial, a masterpiece in high relief wrought by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whom I consider to be, alongside Frederic Remington, the most distinctly American of our sculptors. I am supposing that the attack on the memorial was no mere act of vandalism, no instance of rioting mainly for fun and profit, as Edward Banfield called it inThe Unheavenly City, but a real expression of political hatred. If I am wrong about that, I could turn elsewhere for instances: churches set afire, harmless businesses smashed, men of good will slandered, all in the name of justice.

For most of us, such acts of hatred and senseless destruction may seem incomprehensible. The key to understanding them is a motive that Friedrich Nietzsche first identified in hisOn the Genealogy of Morals(1887), and that Max Scheler, refining and correcting Nietzsches insight, made the subject of a brilliant book:Ressentiment(1913).

The French term is necessary because we are not talking about mere resentment. A neighbor who takes advantage of your good nature by letting his dog run loose in your yard is annoying, and the act may stir up passing resentment. Butressentiment,says Scheler, is a self-poisoning of the mind, a consequence of repressing otherwise natural but negative emotions, leading to certain kinds of value delusions and corresponding value judgments. The emotions primarily concerned are vengefulness, hatred, malice, envy, the impulse to detract, and spite. It goes beyond these evils and creates in the soul an inversion of values, so that the afflicted soul will say that the good it cannot enjoy is actually evil, and that the evil it indulges is good.

It is important to note that the emotions Scheler lists are but stages on the way toressentiment. Take the desire for revenge. If you give me a box on the ear and I give you one right back, we clear the air, andressentimenthas no food to feed upon. Soldiers, says Scheler, are least subject toressentiment. Think of Civil War generals Grant and Lee at Appomattox, or of William Shermans gracious and generous treatment of the Confederate soldiers in the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest, causing those two men to become fast friends.

An act of vengeance is not the same as vindictiveness, whereby you seek occasion to attack, for great touchiness is indeed a symptom of a vengeful character, as you tend to see injurious intentions in all kinds of perfectly innocent actions and remarks of others. Triggered! Thaddeus Stevens, the club-footed real estate mogul who never could have fought in the Civil War, was vindictive; Sherman was not, and he suffered politically because of it.

Or take envy, the only one of the seven deadly sins that brings not even a phantasm of delight. Here we are on dangerous ground. An emulous actor may cease to feel envy once success comes his way. He does not yet say that it is wrong to recognize excellence; he just wants his own to be recognized. To that end, though, he may indulge his appetite for detraction, to disparage and to smash pedestals, to dwell on the negative aspects of excellent men and things.

Likewise, the feminist is glad to believe the slanderous tale that her grandfather beat her grandmother. She is disappointed to learn the truth, that he was a modest and kindly man after all; but no matter, she who seeks for bad men to hate will find plenty. Or she need not find specific men at all, when she can settle upon a vague patriarchy. The less specific and personal is the object of hatred, the closer we come toressentiment.

These evils in a man sour and ferment intoressentimentwhen his felt inferiority is perceived as inevitable, as a destiny built into the nature of the world or of his society, against which he is impotent. He wants to strike back but he cannot. Or, the woman wants to tower over the man but she cannot. Both want history itself to be otherwise, but it cannot be. Then, says Scheler:

the oppressive sense of inferioritycannot lead to active behavior. Yet the painful tension demands relief. This is afforded by the specific value delusion ofressentiment. To relieve the tension, the common man seeks a feeling of superiority or equality, and he attains his purpose by an illusory devaluation of the other mans qualities or by a specific blindness to these qualities. But secondlyand here lies the main achievement ofressentimenthe falsifies the values themselves which could bestow excellence on any possible objects of comparison.

The fox in the fable who cannot reach the grapes calls them sour. That is detraction. The dog in the fable cannot eat the hay in the manger, so he makes sure the cow will not either. That is spite. But the fox has not gone so far as to prefer sour grapes. The dog has not gone so far as to prefer starvation. The man ofressentimentdoes go so far. Examples in our time are easy to find, including those that bear upon the current riots. Young black students who with the encouragement of their peers might succeed in school are sneered at for acting white. The courtly and earthy friendliness of blacks in the rural south is sneered at, too, as if it were no more than cringing; and thus do those ofressentimentreveal their own cowardice, like that of Uriah Heep.

Similarly, women are encouraged to look at the accomplishments of men before our time as if they were insults or encroachments upon their liberty, as if women and not men would have built the Brooklyn Bridge if they had been given the chance.

Ressentimentis, if I may indulge an oxymoron, gigantically petty. It is Jesse Jackson and the students of Stanford, chanting, Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go. I saw the same phenomenon at Providence College, where I taught for 27 years. The opponents of its Western Civilization program did not want to read the Tao Te Ching alongside the Psalms, or the Bhagavad-Gita alongside the book of Genesis. They refused to see that the best preparation for studying a civilization wholly alien to yours would be to study your own origins that had, over the chances and changes of millennia, become largely alien to you.

No, they were not interested in that: They had no stake in it. Nor could I appeal to the greatness and vast variety of what we had put before them, covering four or five disciplines, a dozen or more cultures, and 3,000 to 4,000 years. The very greatness itself was the offense.

Still European, said the bitter freshman from Colombia, when I told him we were going to read Pedro Caldern, the greatest playwright in his own native language. Where else but in school itself would he have learned his lesson inressentiment? Puny teachers do not revel in the greatness of John Milton or Alexander Pope or Charles Dickens. The greatness of such artists is an affront, ostensibly because they did not believe the values we happen to assert todaybut actually because they existed and were what they were. Had the blind visionary who composedParadise Lostbeen second-rate, he could be forgiven.

That is what galls. For the man ofressentimentstill senses the truth even though he cannot speak it openly. Milton is instructive here. Satan does not think that Adam and Eve are paltry. He knows they are noble. He does not think that the earth is a mere speck of mud. He knows it is beautiful:

The more I see

Pleasures about me, so much more I feel

Torment within me, as from the hateful siege

Of contraries: all good to me becomes

Bane, and in Heaven much worse

would be my state.

That is why he wants to destroy it. Think of an old embittered woman snickering to see a couple about to be married, predictingwishingtheir unhappiness. Think of gay men looking at the same couple and dismissing them as breeders. Think of the hatred once aimed at the Boy Scouts prior to their shameful retreat. People hated them not despite their helping boys to become normal and healthy men. They hated them because of it.

Hence we arrive at the attack on the Shaw Memorial. In 1863, Robert Shaw died a heros death at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner near Charleston harbor. He was a 25-year-old white man, a colonel, leading the Union armys first regiment of Negro soldiers. The Confederate general in charge of the fort, Johnson Hagood, in an act of remarkable gracelessness, ordered that Shaws body be interred in a mass grave with his niggers.

The memorial in Boston, then, was for a young man who gave his life for the sake of the noble black men he proudly led. He is depicted on horseback, with the black men before and behind him; and Saint-Gaudens sculpted them with great attention to age and to individual personality.

Why would the rioters want to deface that memorial? That is like asking why the man ofressentimentdoes not want to receive a gift from someone he hates. Feminists can condescend to forgive weak and ineffectual men. They cannot forgive strong and effectual men. It does not matter that Shaw was a fierce opponent of slavery. The point is that he was giving of himself, from his strength, and those who feel themselves to be inferior cannot abide it.

Students who protested at my old school were not grateful for being given a rare chance to study great authors and artists with teachers who knew their works and loved them. They did not want the education that W. E. B. DuBois himself would have recommended to them. They did not say, Thank you for bringing Homer before our eyes! May we also have theRig Veda? The greatness was the offense.

The noblest man, the man most free in his spirit, rejoices in the nobility of his enemy. It is not pride, but a free acknowledgment of a real value that exists apart from the persons involved. What matters is not whether I am Michelangelo, but that there should be a Michelangelo at all. For I derive my worth directly from the world of objective values, and not by comparison with others.

As long as we are interested in making manifest the highest of these values, says Scheler, the questionwhorealizes them will be of secondary importance, although each individual will be intent on doing it. A saint cannot begrudge another saint his sanctity without losing his own.

What we need, Scheler would say, is true Christian charity, which he distinguishes sharply from the self-serving bourgeois sentimentality that goes by that name, and that Nietzsche mistook for the real article. That is because Nietzsche did not take account of the very nature of God as Christ reveals him, the God who is himself love, who pours himself forth from the infinitude of his being, not inevitably and impersonally, as did the One of the Neoplatonists, but as a free gift.

Those who seek to be godlike, then, will wish to teach the ignorant, tend the sick, and correct the sinner not from empathy but from the invincible fullness of [their] own life and existence, aware that they are rich enough to share [their] being and possessions. Love, sacrifice, help, the descent to the small and the weak, here spring from a spontaneous overflow of force, accompanied by bliss and deep inner calm.

We see that bliss and calm in Jesus, who when He urges us to regard the lilies of the field does not say that we should be insensible to earthly things, or grimly stoical. His is a gay, light, bold, knightly indifference to external circumstances, drawn from the depth of life itself! Such inner security and vital plenitude can love the weak aright, and it grows by such love; it is the very kingdom of God among us on earth. The deeper and more central it is, adds Scheler, the more man can and may be almost playfully indifferent to his fate in the peripheral zones of his existence.

The great earthly aim of the Christian faith is not that there should be more of these or those material goods in the world, or an equal distribution of those goodsnot only wealth or objects of sensuous enjoyment, but fame, honor, rank, and political powerbut that there should be more love that rejoices in the excellence and the beauty of the other.

Out of the fullness of our being we make what Josef Pieper called the fundamental affirmation: How good it is that you exist! Yet we must flush out the impostors, the confidence men of love. One of them, says Scheler, is altruism. Altruistic love does not affirm any positive value. It is rather a disguised counter-impulse (hatred, envy, revenge, etc.) against those who do possess such positive values (courage, generosity, saintliness, etc.). Altruism poses as the universal love of mankind, which results in the urge to turn away from oneself and to lose oneself in other peoples business.

The riots today are not prompted by the discovery of saintliness and beauty in the life of George Floyd. Saintliness does not inspire mayhem. People who love beauty do not burn down churches. Floyd himself will soon be forgotten entirely, except as an empty name, a placeholder, an instrument for altruisticressentimentto lay hold of. Scheler saw the urge to altruism as a form of self-hatred: We all know a certain type of man frequently found among socialists, suffragettes, and all people with an ever-ready social consciencethe kind of person whose social activity is clearly prompted by his inability to keep his attention focused...on his own tasks and problems. He hates his feeling of inferiority, of failure, and so he attaches himself in repressed envy to those who are small and weak, not because he loves them, but because they are the opposite of what he hates:

When we hear that falsely pious, unctuous tone (it is the tone of a certain socially-minded type of priest), sermonizing that love for the small is our first duty, love for the humble in spirit, since God gives grace to them, then it is often only hatred posing as Christian love.

If I love you and you are wrong, I will tell you what you must hear, though I may tailor it to your ability to hear it. I will not necessarily feel what you feel, and it is wrong for you to require that I do. For feelings themselves may be evil, though they present themselves as angels of light. But if you say to me, You must on no account say anything that will trouble me, because I am a victim, you are like a sick creature snapping at the hand of the doctor, reveling in your sickness and calling it health.

The feminist does not rejoice to see a gang of boys happily and noisily playing football in a field. The critic does not rejoice to see a new artistic genius springing up among us, unless he can use him as a stalking-horse to condemn what he hates. The rioters do not seek friendship between men of different races. By comparison with the salt of a hatred that goes by the name of justice, friendship has no relish.

To anyone with a healthy mind, the rioting is incomprehensible, unless we understand that inversion of values that Scheler explains so well. Those who engage in the present destructive frenzy cry out that they have no choice because justice has been denied them too long. The proximate cause is the death of a black man, George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis. When will it matter to the nation, they cry, that black men are murdered by white men, by systemic racism and white privilege and four hundred years of oppression?

One might reply that murderdoes matter, and that is why we have laws against it, and jury trials, and prison. One might add a rejoinder to the effect that black men murder other black men in yearly numbers that we would not accept as American fatalities in one of our many Middle Eastern wars: more than 5,000 such homicides last year.

White murderers come nowhere near that mark, much less policemen of all races, who last year were responsible, in a nation of 330 million people, for the deaths of a mere 30 unarmed personsand unarmed does not mean not dangerous. An accomplice to an armed felon may be unarmed; so might a man strangling someone.

For the rioters, black lives do not matter, just as for feminists, the health and happiness of women do not matter. If the health of women were really the aim of feminists, they would be urging women to marry and to stay married, since a married and never-divorced woman living with her husband is the least likely person in America to be the victim of a felony crime.

I have heard feminists cry out about womens health all my life, as if men did not also get sick and did not die at younger ages than women do. But the same feminists have buried the pathological evidence linking breast cancer and abortion, which unnaturally disrupts a pregnancy just when the womans breast cells are in the midst of transformation. Many a male athlete accepts as a matter of course that the artificial testosterone he takes to grow muscle tissue can be carcinogenic; but feminists have not wanted women to hear that the artificial estrogentheytake to work the body up into a false pregnancy might also be carcinogenic. Nor shall we get into the matter of placing womenusually of the working classin front of an enemys cannons, grenades, rifles, and bayonets, for no conceivable military advantage.

But perhaps the cause of the present rancor will disappear, when equality, like sediment, settles upon all men in even layers from the east to the west? No, that will not be. It cannot be. The crust of conformity will crack. Mountains will rise. There will always be differences in talent, intelligence, industry, luck, thrift, and so forth. Indeed, as Scheler rightly notes, egalitarianism itself is a source of rancor, because it makes the results of such differences all the more painful for the weak to endure.

Egalitarianism is a rage to reduce. Its power is proportionate to the narrowness of its concentration, a single-minded refusal to recognize the value of the greatness it cannot attain. The ideological egalitarian must reduce man to a thing about which he can make quantitative predications; and then he fights against reality to make the predications come out even, and comfortably low. But man is not a thing. We will recall it someday. A strange time it is when the incendiary throng torch police stations and courthouses, while lonely prophets, like monoliths in a desert, call man back to a real life of communion and love.

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Dangerous Intimacies: Racism, Risk, and Recovery – Psychotherapy.net

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I Have These Fantasies I have these fantasies, Ivan told me, his voice low and cold as stone, his eyes sliding away from mine and fixing on the wall behind me. I wait for one of those women outside the building. I get her alone, and then I strangle her with my bare hands. As he said this, his hands tensed and grasped, as if wrapped around someones throat. "I can almost feel it," he said.

I have these fantasies, Ivan told me, his voice low and cold as stone

Resentment: A feeling of indignant displeasure or persistent ill will at something regarded as a wrong, insult, or injury (Merriam Webster)

Three years before this encounter, Ivana thirty-year seasoned social worker and substance abuse counselor who had received numerous commendationsfound himself in an unexpected situation. During a session, a client told him she had herpes and was planning to go out to spread it to as many men as she could. Alarmed, Ivan told her that was unacceptable, and that she absolutely could not do such a thing. The client became angry and stormed out. On her way past the front desk, she told the receptionist that Ivan had grabbed her and sexually assaulted her. Rather than come to Ivan and ask him what happened, or asking anyone else if they saw anything untoward during Ivans session (he always left the door part way open during sessions with female clients), the site manager broke protocol and went directly to the police. Ivan, unaware of the accusation, went about his day.

The following day, the police came for Ivan, hauled him down to the police station, and harshly interrogated him for four long hours. They pressured him. They threatened him with violence. They yelled in his face. They laughed as they told him they could plant drugs on him and throw him in jail anytime they wanted to, so he might as well just confess to what he had done. This kind of scenario would be a harrowing event for anyone, but for Ivana black man who grew up in the inner cityinterrogation by the St. Louis police was especially fraught. I really didnt know what they would do, he told me.

When you grow up in the city like I did, you stay away from the cops at all costs

Ivan was eventually released and, following a thorough investigation by both the police and the Department of Mental Health, was completely exonerated of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, the client in question had recanted, admitting that she made up the allegation because she was angry. But it was too lateIvans life was in tatters. Word had gotten out among both the professional social work community and the neighborhood that Ivan was a sexual deviant of some sort, though in typical gossip fashion, the details became contorted. He came home to see child molester spray painted on his garage. He had rocks thrown through his windows. Neighbors crossed the street to avoid him, and he was asked to leave neighborhood gatherings. His girlfriend of two years left him because of the rumors.

"They know exactly what calling the cops on a Black man can mean," he stressed

Ivan, understandably, harbored a great deal of resentment about everything that had happened to him. Notably, however, he was not upset with the client who accused him: The client is, well, a client. You dont expect them to act rationally, he said. Nor was he upset with the police who interrogated him: The police were doing their jobs. I was just some guy they thought had done this thing. Rather, his resentment became directed at the coworkersall of them womenwho called in the police rather than following company protocol. Thats what I dont understand, he said. My coworkers, those womenthey knew me. I had worked there for six years. Thats what really gets me. In other words, Ivans resentment derived from the intimacy and vulnerability he had cultivated with the peoplewomenwho then turned on him and put him in danger. The fact that some of these women were Black women particularly upset him. "They know exactly what calling the cops on a Black man can mean," he stressed. "They put me directly in harms way. I cant believe they did that."

Re-Sentiment: To feel something again, to experience the past in the present.

When we first began meeting, about six months after the incident in question, Ivan insisted we keep the door opennot just a crack, but wide open. He was afraid to be alone with me behind closed doors. As he explained it, What if you felt uncomfortable or just decided to interpret something some way and accused me of something? The police told me I could get twenty years for sexual assault. Twenty years! Im 62thats a lifetime. If there was another accusation, they would put me away for the rest of my life. Given Ivans fear of women and his refusal or inability to become angry in session, it quickly became clear to me that the standard therapeutic interventions for PTSD were not going to be helpful. Not because Ivan didnt have PTSD or that they wouldnt have helped to relieve the internal push of some of his most troubling feelings, but because these interventions assume that a person is situated in a particular way in the social and relational world or, rather, NOT situated in a particular way. As a Black man, some of the many harmful stereotypes Ivan had to contend with were that of being construed as scary or threatening, prone to violence or loss of control, hyper-sexed. Not only is it likely that such stereotypes prompted his coworkers to call the police, it affected Ivans relationship with his own emotionality, especially his anger.

One day, as he sat in my office trembling and sweating and talking about how his life had become a shambles, I tried to get him to express his anger about what had happened to him. After a few minutes of this, he looked up at me, incredulous. Im sitting here in this room with a White woman and youre telling me to get ANGRY? Youve got to be kidding me. I cant do that. I assured him that it was ok, that this was part of his process of healing, and he just scoffed. Doc, I know you mean well but seriously, you dont understand. I just cant do that. Im a Black man. Youre a White woman. I cant get angry around you. Ive learned my whole life that thats a dangerous thing to do. I just cant do it. Despite my assurances that it really was ok to do so, Ivan was adamant. It was, he said, for my own protection.

Not that he would ever actually hurt me, but, rather, that I might become afraid of him

Ressentiment: The persistent indignation of the historically oppressed (Nietzsche)

In Ivans case, it was obvious to me that race likely played a role in his coworkers assuming he was sexually dangerous and calling the police

One day, as Ivan sat on my couch jiggling his leg and wringing his hands, I said, I wonder how your being a Black man might have figured into what happened to you. Do you have any thoughts about that? He immediately stopped jiggling his leg and looked up at me, intently. I worried that perhaps I had offended him. Doc, he said. It has everything to do with it. But I didnt know if it was ok to talk about that in here. I assured him that it was, and this opened up a whole new line of exploration in our work together. It was only in the wake of this that he was able to tell me why he was afraid to get angry in session, and for us to work toward making that a safe thing for him to do.

Ivan doesnt blame racism for everything, though. I keep thinking I must have done something to bring this down on me, he said. I must have. Otherwise, why me? Though at the same time he is adamant: If I had to do it all over again, I wouldnt do anything differently. Not one single thing. You cannot go out and spread herpes to a bunch of people. No! You cannot do that! So, I would tell the client the same thing. I wouldnt do anything different. That gives me comfort.

As I write this now, Ivan is doing well. We are down to one session every three weeks. He still gets triggered and has moments of intense rage or panic, but now he can go to the grocery store and complete a shopping trip without having to leave if a woman walks too close to him, and he can ride the bus without having to sit way in the back to make sure no women are behind him. Hes even considering dating again. I never would have believed it, he told me. When we first met, I thought Oh Lordy, how is this White girl going to help me? I thought, God has a pretty sick sense of humor. But you know what, Doc? Ive learned a lot; youve taught me a lot.

Affect and emotion are highly racialized in the United States, and for some people, the honest expression of those feelings can be literallyeven fatallydangerous

So what to do? Does this mean that clients of color should only see therapists of color, and white therapists should only see white clients? No. But it does mean those of us who are White clinicians are ethically obliged to educate ourselves about racial dynamics and injustices and be prepared to discuss them from a place of respect and openness with clients of color. We need to be willing to take an honest and hard look at our own privilege and how it shapes our beliefs about health and healing. And we must recognize that the theories and interventions we have learned as best practices are based on White norms and do not take into account the legacies of bias and oppression that shape Black clients emotional experiences and expression. This does not make these tools useless or ineffective. But it does make them partial and in need of active interrogation and adjustment (for a collection of excellent resources on where to begin, see Race and Racism: Resources for your Practice).

I am incredibly fortunate that Ivan took a chance on me. He was traumatized and vulnerable and he took an enormous risk working with a woman, and a White woman at that. He says I taught him a lot, but what he has taught me is infinitely more valuable: he taught me to recognize how much I dont yet know.

References

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Resentment. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved July 7, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resentment.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. (1989). On The Genealogy of Morals. (W. Kauffman & R. J. Hollingdale, Trans.). Vintage Books. (Original work published 1887)

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In Gratitude for the Executive Order on Critical Race Theory – Merion West

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The Melting Pot is a quaint notion now perhaps (and no longer widely taught to curious young boys and girls), but I find it useful as a basic counterimage to the sophisticated, academic concept of Critical Race Theory now being taught.

Sometime during my elementary school education in rural Pennsylvania, I was introduced to the then-common concept of the United States as the Melting Pot. In my innocent farm boy imagination, I saw people from all over the world jumping into the type of big, black belly pot hung over a wood fire that was used by cannibals in cartoons and occasionally by Bugs Bunny to cook Elmer Fudd. I saw all of the many different types of people in the worldfarmers, elementary school teachers, and county sheriffsbeing melted together like my toy soldiers and emerging as shiny, new Americans.

The idea made me proud. It made me happy. It made me feel that I lived in a happy place, where everybody in the world wanted to all jump into the pot and become an American. It assured me beyond my understanding that I lived in an important and proud society where everyone voluntarily surrendered their differences in the common pursuit of happiness.

The Melting Pot is a quaint notion now perhaps (and no longer widely taught to curious young boys and girls), but I find it useful as a basic counterimage to the sophisticated, academic concept of Critical Race Theory (CRT) now being taught. Where the Melting Pot proposes a unified and cooperative America, CRT proposes a divided and competitive one.

It is said that bad news can run around the world while good news is still putting its pants on. This certainly seems true for CRT, the child of postmodernism. And this is where the trouble starts. CRTs parent philosophy of postmodernism ran around the world from Paris in the 1960s while the good news of capitalisms superiority over communism was still looking for its pants. While the world had begun joining together for nuclear non-proliferation, postmodernism arrived to divide the world back into warring tribes.

Postmodernism is a philosophy based on nihilismthe belief that human life is meaningless, truth is unknowable, and morality is relative. Postmodernist pioneer Jacques Derrida said that what was real could never be known because we all have different ideas about reality. Perhaps because Friedrich Nietzsche had pronounced God dead, Foucault panicked and claimed then that all bets were off and everyone would have to become their own bermensch (Nietzsches term): a higher overman that provided his or her own values. It was nonsense, of course, but Derrida dined out on this idea for decades. Here he is responding to an interviewers question about his theory of postmodernism that was leading to the deconstruction of traditional Western values. This new word deconstruction meant the same thing as the old, shorter worddestructionbut indicated that the postmodernists need to destroy the common language as well as truth, morality, and values:

Before responding to this question, I want to make a preliminary remark on the completely artificial nature of this situationI want to underline rather than efface our surrounding technical conditions, and not feign a naturality that doesnt exist.

Naturality? This gibberish goes onseemingly for several weeksand gets much worse. I will spare you. Feminist scholar Camille Paglia described this as thrashing the language and concluded that the postmodernists she had known were frauds. Yet, this was the bad news that quickly ran around the world. There was no more realityonly my reality, no more truth only my truth. There were no more Melting Pot Americans unified in the pursuit of happiness, only nihilistic tribes of strangers competing for the American Dream.

Into this jolly mix arrived the squalling newborn of CRT. In the early 1980s, the high holy days of postmodernism at Harvard University when whiteness was identified as the original and irredeemable sin, CRT was immaculately conceived in a conference of law professors and students as a perfect mimic of Orwells newspeak and groupthink and born of a woman: Kimberl Williams Crenshaw, Harvard Law School class of 1984.

Shazam! Crenshaw created categories of oppressed people (by race and sex) and theorized that a white, male supremacist patriarchy existed to maintain this oppression. The academy looked on in awe at this young, black woman who had uncovered the Rosetta Stone of the oppression they all knew existed. Then, Crenshaw imagined an even finer interpretation and coined the impressively thrashed term of intersectionality. This was essentially a cumulative point system of oppression with unlimited categories including gender, class, religion, disability, physical appearance, and its sub-category: height. Yes, people are oppressed if they are too short or tall. Aside from instantly destroyingor, rather, deconstructingalmost all forms of comedy and ridicule that were thrashed into micro-aggressions, it was a stroke of postmodern genius. Everyone was oppressed, even though nothing was real and nothing was true.

Of course, intersectionality as the cornerstone of CRT took off running and quickly outpaced postmodernism in the race of bad news around the world. By the early 2000s, law schools began featuring CRT courses. Today, CRT and intersectionality are essential parts of hundreds of university courses in education, political science, womens studies, ethnic studies, communication, sociology, and American studies.

CRT enthusiasts have expanded their truth(s)(?) to include the thoroughly thrashed conceptual triad of diversity, inclusion, and equityreferred to in the hushed tones of micro-aggressors appropriately as D.I.E. This toxic soup cooked up by academic court jesters has now even invaded the sciences and the federal government of the United States.

Reporter Christopher Rufo of the Discovery Institute and City Journal recently spoke about his investigation into CRT and the federal government. Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonightat the beginning of the month, Rufo explained:

I broke the story on the Treasury Department which held a seminar earlier this year from a man named Howard Ross, a diversity trainer who has billed the federal government more than $5 million over the past 15 years conducting seminars on Critical Race Theory.

He told Treasury employees essentially that America was a fundamentally a white supremacist country and I quote, Virtually all white people uphold the system of racism and white superiority and [Ross] was essentially denouncing the country and asking white employees at the Treasury Department and affiliated organizations to accept their white privilege, accept their white racial superiority, and accept essentially all of the baggage that comes with this reducible essence of whiteness.

Second, this is not by any means limited to the Treasury Department. Critical Race Theory has actually now infiltrated our criminal justice system. Just this week, I released a story that the FBI is now holding weekly seminars on intersectionality, which is a hard left academic theory that reduces people to a network of racial, gender, and sexual orientation identities that intersect in complex ways and determine whether you are an oppressor or oppressed.

Oppressor or oppressed, that old chestnut of Karl Marxoppressed workers against oppressive capitalists. Crenshaws Rosetta Stone of oppression was really just a postmodern thrashing of Marxs old Communist Manifesto. Of course, everyone present at the time knew this was true, but the truth being what it wasor maybe was notthey were happy to overlook Crenshaws cribbing without public credit being paid to the originator: old Karl Marx.

But it seems to me to go back even further, even before God was found dead. Isnt it all just a retelling of the jealousy of Cain for his brother Abel? Wasnt Cains killing of his favored and therefore oppressive brother simply the attempted overthrow of Gods patriarchy? Havent we all seen this movie before, back when there was truth and before reality was cancelled? Does this mean that Harvard and dozens of other institutions of higher education offering CRT are neither higher nor education?

Recently a presidential executive order was issued through the Office of Management and Budget in response to Rufos public challenge to end the flow of taxpayer dollars to CRT trainers teaching inclusion and diversity to scientists, soldiers, and executives working in the federal government. In summary, the order concludes:

The President, and his Administration, are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States. The President has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed. The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government..

Jim Proser is the author of Savage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization and No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis.

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Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross review – The Guardian

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Wagner gave his name to a movement that is also a contagious malaise and in surveying a Wagnerised world Alex Ross looks far beyond the composers musical legacy. True, the pining dissonance at the start of Tristan und Isolde disrupted tonality for ever, but Wagners sonic sorcery has cast an equally decisive spell on those Ross calls the artists of silence novelists, poets, and painters, as well as on some noisy and unmelodious politicians. The harmonies of Orpheus supposedly soothed emotional distress and kept the cosmos in tune. Wagner achieved the opposite: his operas unsettled the sanity of his disciple Friedrich Nietzsche and later provided the besotted Hitler with a preview of fiery apocalypse.

For more than a century, this music has been a drug or even a poison, a cult with members who are sometimes fanatics, not fans, goaded to overcome humane qualms as they surrender to a Dionysian excitement. Ross likens the overwrought emotional state of the typical Wagner devotees to the Greek agon, a state of conflict or self-contradiction. Casualties abound. Nietzsche, the first of the books antagonists, vaguely blamed Wagner for his headaches, eye strain and vomiting attacks; the poet Stphane Mallarm said that Wagner disgusted but irresistibly enslaved him. The tenor who sang Tristan at the operas premiere dropped dead soon afterwards, then with the intercession of a medium informed his widow, the first Isolde, that the mental strain of the music had done him in.

Mostly, the combat takes the form of cultural contestation, as reverence for the holy German art extolled in Die Meistersinger von Nrnberg has often required other nations to pay homage to Germans as the master race. Once or twice, the agon descends into violence. Ross reports on duels between Wagnerites and non-believers and there is even a boozy altercation with weaponised beer mugs.

The story diverges and digresses and soon gets out of Rosss control. Like Wagner with his repeated orchestral motifs, he tends to go round in circles: I dont mind Nietzsches eternal recurrence in music, but a historical narrative needs to move ahead. In this encyclopaedic book, the plethora of interpreters makes Wagner mean anything at all, which ultimately makes him mean nothing in particular. Decadent enthusiasts such as Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde were thrilled by the orgiastic revels in Tannhuser, yet the nuptial march from Lohengrin became compulsory at sedate Victorian weddings. For Shaw, Wagners Ring exposed the greedy iniquity of capitalism, while for Hitler it unearthed the racial roots cultivated by fascism. Can it do both or is Ross just amassing opposed opinions? At its most undiscriminating, Wagnerism lapses into a game of Trivial Pursuit: if you need to know how many US cities have streets named after Parsifal, the answer is somewhere in here.

On American turf, Ross writes well about the novelists Willa Cather and Owen Wister, who found an equivalent to the raw, wild landscapes of the Ring in the geysers of Yellowstone, the Wyoming prairies and the New Mexico desert, and he uncovers a suppressed tradition of African American Wagnerites. Yet in his desperation to be all-inclusive he straggles off in quest of such exotic aficionados as the Sri Lankan Theosophical leader Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa and Horacio Quiroga, a Uruguayan epigone. Worse, the abstruse rightwing philosopher Martin Heidegger and the structural anthropologist Claude Lvi-Strauss lure him up blind alleys of speculative theorising.

The occasional obscenity adds a much-needed fillip. A poem by Pierre Lous filthily fantasises about the lusty appetite of Senta, the chaste redeemer from Der Fliegende Hollnder, while Aubrey Beardsley places the wayward Tannhuser in an all-male Venusberg where he descends to the passive attitude and is rogered by a priapic servant. Theres even a detour to a Greenwich Village leather bar in which a sign once enjoined patrons to concentrate on having sex rather than loitering in corners to discuss Wagner. However when Yukio Mishima spills his entrails with a samurai sword in his film Patriotism to the rapturous accompaniment of Tristan und Isolde, the effect is merely repellent.

Wagner is finally absorbed by pop culture, that fecund compost heap where the classics are mulched and pulped. The napalm-spewing gunships that blast the Ride of the Valkyries in Apocalypse Now remind us that the operas shrieking female warriors are out to scavenge corpses from the battlefield, although the cartoon in which Elmer Fudd pursues Bugs Bunny to the same score while yelling Kill da wabbit! reduces Wagners ecstatic whirlwind to muzak. Ross smiles on such kitschy appropriations: he calls Tolkiens Lord of the Rings a kinder, gentler version of Wagners Nibelungen tetralogy, populated by peaceable garden gnomes, not tragic gods and stricken heroes.

At the end, Ross performs a cleansing ritual. Taking up the spear with which Parsifal closes the wound of Amfortas in Wagners last opera, he uses it to heal his own psychic scars, which, as he somewhat creepily discloses, include being dumped by a boyfriend after a performance of Die Walkre and an ensuing alcoholic slump. My long slog through his book was not so cathartic. After Rosss hungover postlude, I recalled his claim, made 700 arduous, enfevered, over-charged pages earlier, that Wagners influence was actually less extensive than those of Monteverdi, Bach or Beethoven. Its good to be reminded that music does not always leave us with an aching libido and shredded nerves or threatens the universe with extinction.

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross is published by HarperCollins (30). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over 15

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Is ‘cultural Marxism’ really taking over universities? I crunched some numbers to find out – The Conversation AU

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Cultural Marxism is a term favoured by those on the right who argue the humanities are hopelessly out of touch with ordinary Australia.

The criticism is that radical voices have captured the humanities, stifling free speech on campuses.

The term has been used widely over the past decade. Most infamously, in former senator Fraser Annings 2018 final solution speech to parliament he denounced cultural Marxism as not a throwaway line, but a literal truth.

But is cultural Marxism actually taking over our universities and academic thinking? Using a leading academic database, I crunched some numbers to find out.

The term cultural Marxism moved into the media mainstream around 2016, when psychologist Jordan Peterson was protesting a Canadian bill prohibiting discrimination based on gender. Peterson blamed cultural Marxism for phenomena like the movement to respect gender-neutral pronouns which, in his view, undermines freedom of speech.

Read more: Is Jordan Peterson the philosopher of the fake news era?

But the term is much older. It seems first to have been used by writer Michael Minnicino in his 1992 essay The New Dark Age, published by the Schiller Institute, a group associated with the fringe right wing figure Lyndon LaRouche.

Around the turn of the century, the phrase was adopted by influential American conservatives. Commentator and three time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan targeted cultural Marxism for many perceived ills facing America, from womens rights and gay activism to the decline of traditional education.

The term has since gone global, sadly making its way into Norwegian terrorist Anders Breviks justificatory screed. Andrew Bolt used it as early as 2002. In 2013, Cory Bernardi was warning against cultural Marxism as one of the most corrosive influences on society.

By 2016, the year the Peterson affair unfolded, Nick Cater and Chris Uhlmann were blaming it for undermining free speech in The Australian. The idea has since been adopted by Mark Latham and Malcolm Roberts.

Insofar as it goes beyond a fairly broad term of enmity, the accusers of cultural Marxism point to two main protagonists behind this ideology.

The first is Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Writing under imprisonment by the fascists in the 1920s, Gramsci argued the left needed to capture the bureaucracy, universities and media-cultural institutions if it wished to hold power.

The second alleged culprits are neo-Marxist theorists associated with the Frankfurt School of Social Research. These critical theorists drew on psychoanalysis, social theory, aesthetics, and political economy to understand modern societies. They became especially concerned with how fascism could win the allegiance of ordinary people, despite its appeals to aversive prejudice, hatred and militarism.

When Hitler came to power, the Frankfurt School was quickly shut down, and its key members forced into exile. Then, as Uhlmann has narrated:

Frankfurt School academics [] transmitted the intellectual virus to the US and set about systematically destroying the culture of the society that gave them sanctuary.

While Soviet communism faltered, the story continues, the cultural Marxist campaign to commandeer our culture was marching triumphantly through the humanities departments of Western universities and outwards into wider society.

Today, critics argue it shapes the political correctness that promotes minority causes and polices public debate on issues like the environment, gender and immigration - posing a grave threat to liberal values.

Read more: How a fake 'free speech crisis' could imperil academic freedom

If the conservative anxieties about cultural Marxism reflected reality, we would expect to see academic publications on Marx, Gramsci and critical theorists crowding out libertarian, liberal and conservative voices.

To test this, I conducted quantitative research on the academic database JStor, tracking the frequency of names and key ideas in all academic article and chapter titles published globally between 1980 and 2019.

In 1987, Karl Marx himself ceded the laurel as the most written about thinker in academic humanities, replaced by Friedrich Nietzsche revered by many fascists including Benito Mussolini and Martin Heidegger, another figure whose far-right politics were hardly progressive.

Over the past 40 years, the alleged mastermind of cultural Marxism, Gramsci, attracted 480 articles. This compares with the 407 publications on Friedrich Hayek, arguably the leading influence on the neoliberal free market reforms of the last decades.

The Frankfurt School featured in less than 200 titles, and critical theorist Herbert Marcuse (identified by Uhlmann as a key transmitter of the cultural Marxist virus in the US) was the subject of just over 220.

Over the last decade, the most written about thinker was the neo-Nietzschean theorist, Giles Deleuze, featuring in 770 titles over 2010-19.

But the notoriously esoteric ideas of Deleuze - and his language of machinic assemblages, strata, flows and intensities - are hardly Marxist. His ideas have been a significant influence on the right-wing Neoreactionary or dark enlightenment movement.

The last four decades have seen a relative decline of Marxist thought in academia. Its influence has been superseded by post-structuralist (or postmodernist) thinkers like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and Deleuze.

Post-structuralism is primarily indebted to thinkers of the European conservative revolution led by Nietzsche and Heidegger.

Where Marxism is built on hopes for reason, revolution and social progress, post-structuralist thinkers roundly reject such optimistic grand narratives.

Post-structuralists are as preoccupied with culture as our conservative news columnists. But their analyses of identity and difference challenge the primacy Marxism affords to economics as much as they oppose liberal or conservative ideas.

Quantitative research bears out the idea that cultural Marxism is indeed a post-factual dog whistle and an intellectual confusion masquerading as higher insight.

A spectre of Marxism has survived the cold war. It now haunts the culture wars.

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Lol nothing matters. Or does it? – The Week

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Those who read me regularly at The Week and on Twitter have probably noticed an occasional tendency toward nihilism. I don't mean that I sometimes act as if everything is permitted in a godless universe. I mean that I sometimes become tempted by the same knowingness and spiritual lethargy with a positive spin, you could call it resignation that inspires so many during the Trump era to shrug their shoulders and pronounce "lol nothing matters."

I'll admit this is how I greeted news on Wednesday that Trump spoke to journalist Bob Woodward in February about the looming pandemic and disclosed that he understood as well as anyone back then how dangerous and deadly it was even as he was preparing to discount the risks before all the world over the coming months. Which was of course followed by him careening between sounding grave about the risks and then dismissing them, sometimes within the same news conference, and occasionally within the same sentence.

So Trump knew the truth, but he deliberately lied about it (most of the time). And here we are six or so months later with the country about a week from reaching the morbid milestone of 200,000 dead of COVID-19. We also just passed Italy in per capita deaths and are poised to rise above the U.K. and Spain within the next month, leaving only Belgium with a worse outcome in the developed world.

No wonder, then, that Trump is on track to lose in the biggest landslide in decades. Unless, of course, he only loses the popular vote by 3-4 million or less, in which case he might win. Because the United States, self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, has an electoral system that now routinely bestows presidential power on the candidate who wins fewer votes.

So yeah: lol nothing matters.

Except when it does. Which is most of the time.

Things certainly mattered last week, when The Atlantic published a piece in which four anonymous sources confirmed that Trump referred to American soldiers killed in the line of duty as "losers" and "suckers." After I read the piece, I permitted myself a public outburst on Twitter: "What a thoroughly repulsive human being." It took only a few minutes for me to regain my composure enough to think, "I'm going to regret that." Not because I'd begun to doubt my judgment of the president. And certainly not because I was tempted to embrace the situational skepticism of the president's defenders, who treated the Atlantic story as the greatest opportunity in hours to rail against the dishonest liberal media for relying on anonymous sources in order to spread lies that echo things that the president has said publicly on multiple occasions.

No, I regretted it because I'd allowed the mask of world-weary knowingness to slip. I'd taken the bait, reacted with anger and disgust to an example of the man who holds the nation's highest office acting like a thoroughly disgusting human being instead of responding with something more cynical, like "we knew this already, it won't hurt his polling or prospects on Nov. 3."

In other words: lol nothing matters.

But here's the thing: Both reactions (disgust and indifference) express part of the whole truth a truth that is actually more shocking than either part alone. Trump is in fact a thoroughly repulsive human being, and we all know that it won't matter because a sufficient number of Americans actively like or just don't care that he's a repulsive human being. Some of them probably like it because it triggers liberals like me, which is both entertaining and politically satisfying. Others probably like it because they are pretty repulsive themselves and enjoy having a champion in a position of power and influence who can truly represent them. Still others may not exactly like his repulsiveness but are perfectly willing to tune it out in return for getting concrete goodies in return: cuts to taxes and regulations, right-wing judges appointed to the courts, and so on.

But what am I supposed to do with this information about my fellow Americans? How should I respond as a citizen, as a human being to the knowledge that more than two-fifths of likely voters are cheered by or indifferent to the fact that the commander in chief thinks soldiers are chumps for giving their all for their country in acts of sacrificial valor?

Or that he was more concerned last winter about propping up the stock market than with protecting the country from a far greater danger than any of the ersatz threats he routinely hypes for political gain?

Or that so few appear to care that a significant portion of the country is on fire, turning its skies the color of blood and rust, and rendering the air a toxic fog of soot and ash a vivid glimpse of the kind of world that awaits all of us if we continue to deny the reality of climate change?

What's the right response to this knowledge? The options often appear to be a stark either/or: Either a constant primal scream or a cynical shrug of the shoulders. "Lol nothing matters" is the latter, and it's immensely tempting.

It's tempting for the same reason that mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity. Both grow out of a desperate need to disconnect from the circus. To soothe the anxiety. To stand with composure before the uncertainties that encircle us. To stop caring quite so much, if only for a brief time, about a world that seems to be coming apart.

The problem is that the flip side of achieving composure before the whirlwind is hopelessness a surrender to forces and trends we feel powerless to master, control, or tame. Equanimity can be indistinguishable from spiritual exhaustion. It can feel just like achieving peace by giving up.

That's why "nihilism" is the right word to describe it, at least if it's understood in Friedrich Nietzsche's sense, to mean moral and creative enervation. Maybe you're like me and you've found yourself every so often exclaiming to no one in particular, "I'm so tired." Tired of what? Tired of standing up straight before the onslaught of B.S. that's now flung in our faces every single day. Just getting out of bed to face it again every morning can feel like it takes too much energy. How much easier it would be to slouch into the gutter for a day-long nap.

Why is it all so draining? What produces the pervasive feeling of entropy? Answer: The instinct to care about a world that shows so many signs of coming unhinged.

What isn't exhausting is laughter, which is life-affirming, renewing. But laughing at our world takes detachment caring somewhat less. That's why we've come to pair laughing out loud with the assertion that nothing matters.

But maybe there's a mean to be found between the extremes of giggling in giddy indifference and gaping in exhausted horror at the world. Maybe we can love the world, mourn our losses, and recognize the awfulness of so much of what swirls around us while also striving to place it in a perspective that makes some space for wry smiles. In dark times, a little irony can go a long way transforming a tragedy not so much into a comedy as into a chapter with a mixture of darkness and light and an indeterminate end that leaves a little room for hope.

Yes, Trump is awful, but he's not a demonic figure. He's a buffoon, a fool, a portrait in ignorance, rapaciousness, and groundless self-regard. That an entire political party, from grassroots voters on up to leading officeholders, bow down before him and parrot his bilious lies is pathetic and alarming. But it's also ... a little funny. Not because nothing matters, but because lots of things do and this is something that Trump and his ridiculous party appear not to understand. Like a man convinced he's Superman running headlong into a brick wall he's sure will crumble on impact, allowing him to crash through unscathed to the other side, Trump acts like he can conjure a re-election out of thin air and positive thinking, even as he consistently trails his opponent by nearly eight percentage points.

Could it work? Possibly. But probably not. And that's kind of funny, too. So go ahead and laugh out loud from time to time at the Trump travesty. Just don't think it's because nothing matters.

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Nietzsche’s superman, Islam, and Covid-19 ( Part III) – Daily Times

Posted: August 22, 2020 at 2:55 am


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We have further interesting connections in the relationship of Nietzsche to Islam. Like other German philosophers such as Hegel and Goethe, Nietzsche too sought to understand the meaning of life and the place of the human in existence. The ultimate aim was to discover the path to a fulfilled and even contented life. In the process, like the other philosophers, Nietzsche found himself highly critical of the philosophic and ideological structures that dominated Europe and blamed them for the misery of ordinary people. Nietzsche therefore attacked the Christian church and the state. To him, both were sources of oppression. The church had failed to provide happiness on earth to its followers and therefore its rituals were meaningless. While Christians outwardly acted out the rituals of Christianity and religion, they had lost their conviction in the faith. It was this context that prompted Nietzsche to pronounce the sentence that gave him instant notoriety declaring the death of God. As for the state, Nietzsche was an early critic of Otto Von Bismarck, the architect of the German state, which would go on to become the embodiment of the modern state. Nietzsche warned of the centralizing and tyrannizing tendencies of the state which inevitably would show hostility towards ethnic minorities. Nietzsche the philosopher was an iconoclast: both church and state were corrupt and corrupting. In this sense, Nietzsche was ahead of his time and even predicted what was to come in Europe.

Nietzsche attempted to fill the vacuum by arguing for the ideal of the Superman. For him, wisdom and love are key to understanding the Superman. When a person realizes their human potential and fulfills it, they are able to move away from the herd morality of Christianity and religion to become a Superman. It is noteworthy, and could strike the uninitiated as eccentric, that while dismissing Christianity, Nietzsche appears to be constantly praising Islam. For Nietzsche, Christianity and Islam have a perverse relationship in the sense that while he demeans and shows contempt for the former, he turns towards the latter and elevates it. It is a tension within Nietzsche which is not resolved.

For Nietzsche, Muslims are noble and he describes them as manly, life affirming, and honest (the first adjective is from his 1895 book The Antichrist). Nietzsche even points to the warlike qualities in Islam. In fact, there are over 100 references to Islam in Nietzsches work. Islam is simply everything that Christianity is not. He is so enamored of Muslims that in a letter to a friend he ponders relocating to Muslim lands in North Africa. The scholar Ian Almond wrote, it is difficult to resist the tempting hypothesis: that had Nietzsches breakdown not been imminent, we would have seen a work dedicated to Islam from his own pen (Nietzsches Peace with Islam: My Enemys Enemy is my Friend, German Life and Letters, 56:1, January 2003, p. 51).

Nietzsche blamed Christianity in The Antichrist for the elimination of the advanced civilization of Muslim Spain and the Crusades: Christianity destroyed for us the whole harvest of ancient civilization, and later it also destroyed for us the whole harvest of Mohammedan civilization. The wonderful culture of the Moors in Spain, which was fundamentally nearer to us and appealed more to our senses and tastes than that of Rome and Greece, was trampled down. If there is any doubt as to his position regarding the two religions, Nietzsche himself dispelled it in The Antichrist: There should be no choice in the matter when faced with Islam and Christianity. War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!

There are also parallels in the manner in which the idea of the Superman is revealed in Thus Spake Zarathustra and the history of early Islam. As in the case of the Prophet, Nietzsches protagonist in Thus Spake Zarathustra ascends a mountain, acquires knowledge at the age of 40-the age at which the Prophet received his Quranic revelation-and comes down from the mountain with wisdom and love to share and faces hostility and cynicism. In fact, this pattern reflects not only the broad outline of the early days of Islam but that of many Biblical prophets.

It is worth noting that two of Nietzsches Supermen, Goethe as well as Napoleon, expressed their admiration for Islam. Napoleon in Cairo dressed in Arab robes, spent time with sheikhs from Al Azhar, said he had become a Muslim, and even took a Muslim name. Nietzsche, like Wagner, also praised the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, calling him a genius and celebrating the fact that he fought the papacy while seeking peace and friendship with Islam.

Man could aspire to the heights set by the Perfect Man, the model of the Prophet, and Iqbal exhorted his readers to do so

This raises the question as to why Islam impresses Nietzsche so much. I have explored the answer at some length in my book Journey into Europe in which I argued that traditionally some European scholars and philosophers cast Islam and its tribes in the classic romantic mold of Rousseaus noble savage. To them the Muslim tribesman, the Berber in the deserts, or the Pashtun in the mountains, had escaped the deprivations of modernity and preserved their natural and original nobility. This was particularly true of German scholars, who, as I explain in Journey into Europe, thought of themselves as belonging to a kind of tribal society going back to Germanys status as the frontier of the Roman Empire and celebrated the work of Tacitus who wrote of the German tribes of that time. Thus, German scholars were more likely to respect other societies which they deemed worthy and had characteristics that reflected German self-perception. They increasingly set the German people, ethnicity, language, and religious interpretation against the central authority of the Catholic Church based in Rome in forging a distinct German identity and often displayed a concurrent fascination and appreciation for Islam and Islamic culture. Figures like Drer, Goethe, Wagner, and Nietzsche reflected this larger world-view, which I called the historical German soft spot for Islam.

Nietzsche was thus a genuine admirer of a civilization that he knew very little of. In the nineteenth century Islam was going through a difficult period of its history and it had not yet emerged from colonization. It was dominated by often ignorant and decadent rulers and there was chaos and corruption in its societies. Yet Nietzsche and many others romanticized it seeing instead the uncorrupted noble savage. Through such Orientalist eyes the Islamic world though seen as barbarous and anti-modern was yet a praiseworthy society. We see this tendency continuing in Europe as modernity developed into the next century. By the time of Aldous Huxleys Brave New World written some 30 years after Nietzsche died, the most normal character is John who is widely called a savage and lives outside the bounds of the totalitarian World State.

Nietzsche and Iqbal

Perhaps the most celebrated direct relationship of the concept of the Insan-iKamil or the Perfect Man and the Prophet to Nietzsche was highlighted by Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the revered Poet of the East. Iqbal had arrived from British India for his studies at Cambridge University where he was enrolled at Trinity College, after Nietzsche died in 1900. A brilliant student of philosophy, Iqbal very quickly absorbed the leading philosophers of the time including Nietzsche.

Iqbals own work reflected Nietzsche, albeit with a more religious dimension linked to Islam, to the extent that he was accused of plagiarism, a charge that has stayed with him long after his death. Iqbal believed that through the understanding of religion, Man could develop his potential to become the Perfect Man, in short Superman-a Superman whose mind ranged across the cosmos: Sitaron key aageyjehanaurbhihein!/Abhiishq key imtihanaurbhihein There are many worlds beyond the stars!/ And many more tests of love.

Iqbal notes that God himself in the Quran made man in the image of the divine as a vicegerent on earth, a phrase used in the Quran. Man could aspire to the heights set by the Perfect Man, the model of the Prophet, and Iqbal exhorted his readers to do so. We see the religious dimension in Iqbals understanding of self-betterment in the last lines of what is Iqbals arguably most famous populist poems, The Complaint and The Answer to the Complaint. The latter poem has God clearly informing man in the last verses that as long as he is faithful to the Prophet of Islam then everything belongs to him. Ki Muhammad say wafatu nay to hum terayhain/ Ye jahan cheese hay kialuh o kalamterayhain-If you are faithful to Muhammad, than I am yours./ Why do you ask for this universe? I will give you the secret to knowledge. Iqbal thus acknowledged the legitimacy of the Superman while also his connection to God. Whatever Nietzsche thinks of the matter, for Iqbal man cannot break that link from and to God.

The writer is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, and author of Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity

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