October 31, 2010

Vattimo on truth as persuasion

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I wrote an essay once on truth as rhetoric. It might look a little different if I were writing it today, but let's see if we can clear the matter up once and for all. First and foremost: I am convinced that truth is not a problem of political science, or even a matter subject to scientific demonstration. Truth for me is persuasion, I don't mean "take it from me, sonny boy," I mean something more like "let's all lend a hand here." In other words: philosophical arguments are arguments ad homines, not ad hominem. By truth I mean truth as persuasion, but persuasion in relation to, and together with, a collectivity, not the art of persuading people to part with their money or something like that. Essentially I am talking about proposals for interpreting our common situation along certain lines and starting from shared assumptions. I will try to persuade you by mentioning the kind of authors you have presumably read and experienced for yourself - not the kind whose business is proving that 2 + 2 = 4, the kind who were also seeking an interpretation of our common situation. Not just any authors, authors who have earned a permanent place on your bookshelf and who are linked to your own specific experience. So the truth to which I bring the discussion back is this: how can you still be saying that without invalidating the experience you had when you were reading Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud? Doesn't the experience that you got from reading Nietzsche (or Kant, or Hegel) now block you from saying things you might once have said and defended?

The question arises: what kind of evidence does this furnish? I answer that differently from Richard Rorty, although he more or less shares my premises. I regard truth in philosophy as the result of a form of ad homines persuasion, but persuasion grounded in a certain faith in the history of Being, faith in our capacity to trace (interpretively) lines of continuity in the history of Being. To me, this faith corresponds to what some might call a kind of philosophical evolutionism: the classics, the things that have held out, weren't perhaps necessarily classics right from the outset, things destined to hold out, but the fact that they did become classics involves me, what I am is largely the fruit of their endurance...

- Gianni Vattimo, The Responsibility of the Philosopher



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Vattimo on philosophy and the edifying

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Naturally, if philosophy does not bracket science and all its results and achievements and consequences for existence, but does not regard itself as science either, philosophical practice has some explaining to do: just what is it then? My own response is that philosophy is a discourse more edifying than demonstrative, it is oriented more toward the edification of humanity than toward enhanced formal comprehension and advancement in knowledge. Edifying doesn't mean antitheoretical, it doesn't mean there is not a progressive acquisition of knowledge during the edification of oneself and humanity. Rather, it means that that isn't the sole or overriding objective. The "edifying," according to Kierkegaard, is the terrible, the disquieting, and under certain conditions, the sublime (i.e., the negative, which for him means the perception of one's own finiteness); at the same time, it is that which ameliorates and constructs. So it is not without its theoretical or cognitive side, but it is also something more, and something different.

- Gianni Vattimo, The Responsibility of the Philosopher



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October 30, 2010

Tao Lin quote

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My target demographics are hipsters, depressed teenagers, depressed vegans, sarcastic vegans, college students.

- Tao Lin



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...

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Hip Hop and Weak Thought



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October 26, 2010

...

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Cancer is not a natural disease. Cancer is an environmental affliction created by man-made chemicals in our air, water and food. Therefore, we should not be searching for a cure for cancer. This is a red herring meant to distract us from the real culprits. Instead we should be protesting, legislating and prosecuting the corporations that produce and profit from the chemical world in which we live.



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October 24, 2010

It was around that time I became obsessed...

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It was around that time I became obsessed with the idea that I wanted people to read my books long after I died, that I wanted to be one of those authors – like Kafka, like Walser, like so many others – whose work only found a substantial readership after they were gone. I didn’t want to do anything in particular to achieve this goal, I just wanted to work, to live, within the vague, unverifiable hope that it might eventually come true. And it occurred to be that this hope was a bit like the Christian idea of an afterlife, that my body would die but my work would live on in the eternal heaven of a considerable posthumous readership.



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October 21, 2010

Two short sentences generated ramdomly during the relay-interview excercise in Stockholm

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Things that love feel strange, confused.

Sad naturally wrong game.



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October 20, 2010

Leszek Kołakowski Quote

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There is a certain attitude of the soul, so to speak, which manifests itself in the similar insights attained, with great effort, by all those who strive to touch the essence of being, whether they are Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or Platonists. They know that if they ever imagine that they understand God, they are wrong: it is not God.

- Leszek Kołakowski



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October 10, 2010

And I met all these young people.

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And I met all these young people. And they were different than the young people I knew before. Or maybe they weren’t so different. Maybe they were only younger. But they were different than me when I was their age. Or maybe not, maybe I was only different now, couldn’t remember, was confused about the nature of change. But I met them. And in meeting them something definitely changed.

I was talking to someone I had just recently met, another writer, about my own age, and we were speaking about artists we liked, and he mentioned Henry Darger. He said one of the things that fascinated him about Darger was how he lived within, worked from, such a radical loneliness. And I mentioned that I thought Kafka lived and worked with something similar, maybe not quite as extreme as Darger, but in different ways equally intense. However, as I spoke what I was thinking was: fuck, me too, that explains everything, that is the engine that drives my work, a vicious, radical loneliness that subsumes everything and cannot be dented, cracked or broken. That was the only thought in my head as I spoke about history, poetry and art: me too. Because it was true, what I experience, a loneliness that nothing touches, like a teenager in teenage hell, but also perhaps because it was flattering, flattering to my work, that like Kafka, like Darger, someone might still care about what I make hundreds of years after I die.



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A play list of 83 videos (with commentary.)




I made a YouTube playlist in 2010. I called it 2010. I posted it on my blog (above.) I made it because my iTunes stopped working and I was looking for a way to listen to music. I did it very quickly and simply, scrolling through my list of favourites and adding the ones I wanted to listen to over and over again. I have made many works over the past few years but somehow this YouTube playlist feels like one of the most simple and satisfying things that I’ve done. It feels like pure autobiography, that if someone were to watch it they would know far more about me than I would ever want them to (this can’t possibly be true but it feels that way.)

Some of the songs have video attached but many have only a single image or a slideshow. These images are often album covers or photographs of the singer or band. It’s strange using video to watch still images. It’s strange the collage of still images interspersed with the occasional blast of moving imagery. It is a random assortment of imagery arrived at because of music I wanted to listen to in the privacy of home. But its very randomness is telling, a mirror of the randomness of the internet.

I have always made mixed tapes/mixed CD’s for friends. Of course, the thing my YouTube playlist most resembles is one of these mixes that I have been making for as long as I can remember. But somehow it is also different. It is a mix of old favourites and songs I just discovered moments ago. It is looser, more eccentric. I did it quickly and when I watch it it continues to surprise me. I never remember what’s coming next.

In 2010 I also wrote a text about artists and the internet for the Austrian periodical Spike Magazine. In the text I say that the internet changes what it means to be an artist in ways we cannot yet get our minds around. What I didn’t say, what I realize in a way only now, is that my blog, my YouTube Favourites, my 8Tracks mixes and my Facebook page feel more to me like my real art practice then my actual art practice. They are more a part of my daily life, I am more deeply engaged with them, they are more intimate and more public, they are not labored over and overworked in the same way my professional artistic life is, they are not marred by grant-writing and publicity. It is the old dream of art as completely interwoven with life. It is simple, lonely, semi-public and locked to a larger corporate and social network. I hope in the future that I will understand it more.



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October 7, 2010

Four short excerpts from The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliot

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The sad thing is how our relationship mirrors all my other romances. Fragmented. Thin. Except that I’m getting worse. In my twenties I would have been too proud to beg a woman to hold me. I didn’t know enough to cry. I wouldn’t dream of pressing my nose against someone’s chest, saying, “I’m so sad. I don’t know what’s happening to me.” And I have less to give.



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“You have to be careful about not sleeping,” Roger tells me. “You can do permanent damage to your memory.” I had sent him what I’ve been writing, my “murder” book. He wants to create a special code so I can call him in an emergency but I tell him it’s not necessary. “Are you really that sad?” he asks. “No,” I say. “Not usually. Sometimes. It’s hard to write about all the boring times in between, which is what most of life is.”



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All systems of domination create stories of their own benevolence. The imperialists arrive to tame the savages. We tie the noose around Saddam Hussein’s neck, place a bag over his head, the floor swings open beneath his feet, and his dead body hangs in the gallows. I was traveling with President Bush in 2004, three days after the pictures were published of Abu Ghraib. He stood near third base in a little league stadium and gave the same speech he gave in every city. Except right in the middle of his speech he slid in one extra sentence. He said, “Thanks to our actions, Saddam’s torture chambers have been closed.”

“Did he just say what I think he said?” I asked the local reporter next to me. The crowd cheered. They had no idea he was saying this for the first time. They thought it was part of the speech. But it wasn’t. It was the official response to evidence to the contrary.



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We sit for another hour at the lake drinking lemonade. I don’t know what it’s in response to but I tell my father, “I’m straight-forward. I’m an honest person.”

“You?” he says, laughing like it’s the funniest thing he ever heard. “Sure you are.” Before we met I thought I had created a way for us to see that our memories were equally valid. I don’t know how to spend time with someone who thinks I’m a liar. We both think we’re indulging each other. We both think we’re doing one another a favor by pretending to forget.



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