This is a link to an incredibly anomalous poem, spanning over a thousand pages. I stumbled upon it while doing research for “Bartleby,” strangely enough. It seems, above all, to be interrogating the deconstructive notion of (free)play, and makes explicit reference to Derrida and other philosophers throughout the work. It’s quite a beguiling diversion from the work I’m supposed to be doing. Above painting by Egon Schiele.
What Heidegger Means by Being-in-the-World
I thought this was a readily understandable and helpful explanation of Heidegger’s concept of In-der-Welt-sein, i.e. of “Being-in-the-world,” alternately rendered in English translation as “to-be-in-the-world.” I nicked the above image from a cool article on information science that discusses Heidegger and which can be found here.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel.
Musée des Beaux
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
Philosophers Rumble Over Van Gogh’s Shoes
[not indicated painting]
By Scott Horton
Cologne’s Wallraf Richartz Museum has launched an impressive new exhibition entitled “Vincent van Gogh: Shoes,” built around a celebrated painting by the Dutch master from 1886. Some might wonder how an exhibition can be framed around a single work with such a modest subject matter, but the curators provide us an impressive model. The exhibition focuses on the extraordinary role this painting has played in modern philosophy surrounding art, its reception, and its relationship to the history of ideas. A half dozen philosophers and art historians have written about van Gogh’s painting of shoes, including Martin Heidegger, Meyer Schapiro, and Jacques Derrida. The exhibition takes us on a trip through their writings—sometimes comic, occasionally downright rude, and often exhilarating. These thinkers certainly bar no holds in their clamber to be exceedingly profound
[not indicated painting]
We should start with the facts now established as to the origins of this painting. In 1886, van Gogh visited a Paris flea market and came across a pair of worn-out shoes. He bought them and brought them back to his atelier in the city’s Montmartre district. It’s not clear why he bought them, but it could be simply that he needed a new pair of shoes. Apparently, he did try to wear them and found the fit impossible. Instead, he decided to use them as a prop for painting, and the shoes soon became the most celebrated footwear in the history of modern art. But that may be less the direct result of van Gogh’s painting than of its critical reception by eminent writers.
Three Poems by Thomas Hardy
Shut Out That Moon
Close up the casement, draw the blind,
Shut out that stealing moon,
She wears too much the guise she wore
Before our lutes were strewn
With years-deep dust, and names we read
On a white stone were hewn.
Step not forth on the dew-dashed lawn
To view the Lady’s Chair,
Immense Orion’s glittering form,
The Less and Greater Bear:
Stay in; to such sights we were drawn
When faded ones were fair.
Brush not the bough for midnight scents
That come forth lingeringly,
And wake the same sweet sentiments
They breathed to you and me
When living seemed a laugh, and love
All it was said to be.
Within the common lamp-lit room
Prison my eyes and thought;
Let dingy details crudely loom,
Mechanic speech be wrought:
Too fragrant was Life’s early bloom,
Too tart the fruit it brought!
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
Franz von Stuck (1920)
by Albert Camus
…The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
If one believes Homer, Sisyphus was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. According to another tradition, however, he was disposed to practice the profession of highwayman. I see no contradiction in this. Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the gods. He stole their secrets. Egina, the daughter of Esopus, was carried off by Jupiter. The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Sisyphus. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition that Esopus would give water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.
“In this last decade of the twentieth century, information circulates as the currency of the realm. Genetics, warfare, entertainment, communications, grain production, and financial markets number among the sectors of society revolutionized by the shift to an information paradigm. The shift…
Simulacra and Science Fiction by Jean Baudrillard
Simulacra and Science Fiction
There are three orders of simulacra:
(1) natural, naturalistic simulacra: based on image, imitation, and counterfeiting. They are harmonious, optimistic, and aim at the reconstitution, or the ideal institution, of a nature in God’s image.
(2) productive, productionist simulacra: based on energy and force, materialized by the machine and the entire system of production. Their aim is Promethean: world-wide application, continuous expansion, liberation of indeterminate energy (desire is part of the utopias belonging to this order of simulacra).
(3) simulation simulacra: based on information, the model, cybernetic play. Their aim is maximum operationality, hyperreality, total control.
To the first order corresponds the imaginary of the utopia. To the second, SF in the strict sense. To the third…is there yet an imaginary domain which corresponds to this order? The probable answer is that the “good old” SF imagination is dead, and that something else is beginning to emerge (and not only in fiction, but also in theory). Both traditional SF and theory are destined to the same fate: flux and imprecision are putting an end to them as specific genres.
There is no real and no imaginary except at a certain distance. What happens when this distance, even the one separating the real from the imaginary, begins to disappear and to be absorbed by the model alone? Currently, from one order of simulacra to the next, we are witnessing the reduction and absorption of this distance, of this separation which permits a space for ideal or critical projection.