Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dasein and Duende

Dasein is the not-quite-objective object of philosophical analysis. Duende is the not-quite-subjective subject of poetical synthesis.

Dasein exists, it is not merely extant. Duende inspires, it does not merely breathe.

The aim of philosophy is to understand Dasein. The aim of poetry is to obey the duende.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Harmless and Useful

I haven't thought this through, but it occurs to me that the modern malaise is rooted in the fact that you can only "earn a living" by doing something that someone will pay you for.

That is, you can't earn a living by cleaning up your local park (unless you're hired by the city to do it), or any number of other perfectly useful things. So people who could just "get to work" at something useful, to everyone, instead seek employment doing something entirely useless or even harmful, like making commercials or selling drugs, simply because there's a "market" there, i.e., a point at which labor is exchanged for money.

This attitude has even been taken up at the institutional level. So schools and hospitals and prisons (as ever, especially in the U.S., but the attitude can be seen everywhere) are trying to conceive of their activities in terms of the "income" they generate instead of the contribution they make to society.

I thought about this when reading Graham Peterson's comment on this OrgTheory post. I completely agree that legalizing drugs will solve a lot of problems. But it will also put a lot of people "out of work", police officers, prison wardens, drug dealers among them. They will all have to find other things to do, simply to make a living.

Some can of course go into the legal drug trade, but it's really not the same kind of profile.

The only solution, to my mind, is the age-old one of just handing out a proper living wage by printing up federal bank notes. Let no-one be forced to do something useless or harmful just to get by. Then let them overcome their boredom, not by consuming useless trinkets (produced by people who are making useless shit to get by), but by looking around their environment and seeing if anything needs fixing.

Perhaps I'm naive in thinking that people turn to crime mainly out of economic need. Perhaps some people would look around and immediately try to put together a private army and go kick some ass to get other people's stuff, rather than doing some useful community improvement project.*

I suppose that's something for the police to keep an eye on when they're not busting street pushers. In any case, I'm definitely one of these people who would be perfectly harmless and entirely useful even if I didn't have to worry about getting paid all the time. I think there are many like me.

*Or at least confining themselves to loafing. Consider: 1% of the American population is in jail. Surely it would cost society less if they just sat around on their porches sipping beer all day?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Plus ça change motherfuckers!

Just discovered Jacob Bacharach's blog. I liked this category, which has two posts, beginning with the words "I never really believed in..." and "I've always been suspicious of..." respectively.

And there's this great post on Christopher Lasch.

Friday, February 08, 2013



whereas ignorance is
false, unjustified belief
or the lack of belief
however true or justified
it may be,

impotence is
wrong, illegitimate desire
or the lack of desire
where it would be
right and legitimate.

If we are powerless, this is why.
We are oppressed by forces
that rob our bodies of just desire
or rob our desires of legitimacy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013


If knowledge is

justified, true belief


power is

legitimate, just desire.

(I.e., that's not all there is to it,
but it gives you something to look for.)

Self-evident Truths and Inalienable Rights

In everyday experience, we encounter people and things. How do we encounter them immediately? How do they manifest themselves as things and people? My view is that an encounter is either a sign of the truth about something (and then it is precisely a "thing") or a sign of someone's rights (which makes him or her a "person").

Now this only works if, in the immediate experience of the thing, some truths are self-evident and, in the immediate experience of the person, some rights are inalienable. I want to define "honesty" as the recognition of the self-evident truth of a thing and "decency" as a respect for a person's inalienable rights.

Something interesting: if are not honest about a thing, i.e., if we don't recognize its self-evident truth, then we are actually turning the encounter into a "personal" one. Likewise, if we don't respect a person's inalienable rights, we are "reifying" the encounter, turning him or her into a thing.

A thing has no rights (it has truths). There are no truths about people (they have rights).