I know it seems i don’t write anymore, but its just that I’ve been writing a shitload for school. Wednesday I wrote three papers. Yeah. Three. and they kicked ass. I write a small novel’s worth of material on a weekly basis.
Anyway, since I don’t have much time to blog, I thought I’d post my class notes from one of my philosophy classes. Take it as you will.
So in this class we talked mostly about Bataille, who is pretty much a mascot for us at this point.
We started out with how the crush freaks are performing animal sacrifice, and how this was just a modern version of what ancient cultures did. We also talked about how Bataille described sado-machochism is modern human sacrifice, while more generally, deviant sexuality is filling a general religious role. This lead to Cs’ weird thought:
“Reproduction of [the crush freaks video] is like printing the bible. The bug is the Christ figure”
I think C may be onto something here. While sure, it is pretty much pornos being produced, the only reason there is a market for these videos is because people are feeling that sort of transcendent connection to these bugs, they’re identifying with them.
This led us to discussing the sacrificial nature of the religious experience, with R saying,
“religion is the destruction of the individual”
What he meant was that the individual gets lost in the group and the experience. Animal sacrifice serves as a nice metaphor for this since it involved something very valuable being given up. We talked about the meaning of the word “sacrifice,” and how it denoted loss automatically. To emphasize the sense of identity, and not just property, that was lost, Dr. T said,
“the property has to be so valuable that losing it is a loss of at least some self.”
This reminds me of the story of Cain and Able in the old testament, where Cain’s sacrifice is deemed unworthy by Jahweh because it was second rate property.
3One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the LORD, 4and Abel also gave an offering to the LORD. He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the LORD the best parts of it. The LORD was pleased with Abel and his offering,5but not with Cain and his offering. This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings. 6The LORD said to Cain:
What’s wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? 7If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. [c] But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion.
(Genesis 4:3-4.7, Contemporary English version, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%204;&version=46;)
Dr. T mentioned a similar story from Hinduism: it seems that the idea of sacrifice being a valuable personal loss is prevalent across religions. This supports Bataille’s idea that sacrifice is an attempt to escape oneself and to connect to something more continuous.
We also talked about a paradox with regards to objectification: Being objectified violates our sense of self, and makes us feel less-than-subjective. At the same time, our own subjectiveness only emerges when we have an objective sense to define it against. An “I” and a “not I.” This is the uncomfortable part of consciousness, which led us to desire.
Desire arises when our undifferentiated consciousness (which does not suffer the objective paradox) experiences the addition of objectivity. Slipping in and out of this “auto-hypnosis,” this “Bhudda mind,” we go about our lives. Dr. T said there were a few different ways to do this:
“War is a form of sacrifice. So is capitalism, which is basically consumerism. Consuming is a form of sacrifice.”
The mention of economics led us to discuss Bataille’s concepts of economy. K already posted on this, but basically he defined a general economy, with infinite consumption, contrasted with a restricted economy where the consumers are aware of limits. He was more interested in how different cultures made use of their excess resources than with how they dealt with scarce resources.
This led to mentioning the idea of pot latch, where native americans would either give something away or destroy it. We talked about how eating something was destroying it, and how a pot luck in modern times did pretty much the same thing.
T then asked:
“isn’t all this desire talk a new foundation?” [remember, pomo is anti-foundationalist]
to which Dr. T responded,
“Bataille is like walking into a junkyard. We are playing with these ideas, don’t be so serious.”
I’ve actually been thinking that the philosophy we’ve been looking at has a non-serious attitude to it. A lack of seriousness doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, that we don’t accomplish what we set out to do, or that we dismiss other people.
But nothing has to get us so worked up that we start defining ourselves by it permanently. It also means we don’t have much room for regret in our lives. Whatever we do, whatever we philosophize about, it is neither significant nor insignificant. It’s just something we do, or something we did, that is if we remember it at all. So when we are aware, we shouldn’t fear enjoying ourselves, or jumping headfirst into whatever comes our way, cause, in the end, what are we worried about?
What about this idea of a non-serious approach to philosophy? Can an attitude undermine our field, or does it make philosophy less boring, more engaging? Are there any consequences to light-heartedness that we should take seriously, and if so, why?