Sunday, June 6, 2010

Žižek's Living in the End Times: A Review, Part II

In the first part of this review, I have discussed the things that I like about Žižek's new book Living in the End Times. In the second part of the review, I want to discuss the weaknesses of this important philosophical tome. I would subdivide Žižek's weaknesses into two groups: those caused by certain blind spots that he has and those that taint his thinking as a result of the very Orthodox brand of Marxism that he practices. Let me reiterate that I do consider Žižek to be one of the greatest (or possibly the greatest) living philosophers. Still, there are parts of his reasoning that make me chuckle in amusement.

Žižek's blind spots:

A) Hollywood. As we all know, Žižek is a prolific film critic. His love of the film genre sometimes makes him oblivious to the nature of the movies he discusses. In a very endearing and surprisingly naive gesture, Žižek "discovers" that there is ideology in Hollywood movies:

When even products of an allegedly 'liberal' Hollywood display the most blatant ideological regression, is any further proof required that ideology is alive and kicking in our post-ideological world? It should not surprise us, then, to discover ideology at its purest in what may appear to be products of Hollywood at its most innocent: the big blockbuster cartoons. (66)
Nobody, of course, is surprised that "even" Hollywood is ideological. I don't think that anybody who'd even think of picking up a book by Žižek would see Hollywood production as "innocent" or "post-ideological." The entire statement betrays a certain childish fascination with Hollywood on the part of the philosopher, a fascination that is punctured by the need to recognize that "even" cartoons promote regressive ideas.

B) Hedonism. For some inexplicable reason, Žižek has convinced himself that we live in a culture of "hedonostic permissiveness." For the life of me, I can't imagine where he has seen all that hedonism. I beleve he is conflating consumerism and hedonism, which, in my opinion, is a mistake. There is nothing hedonistic about consumerism. Just the opposite, it is deeply masochistic. While satisfying one need, buying any object immediately awakens five other needs, and so on. I don't know about Žižek but I live in a culture that is deeply suspicious of any kind of enjoyment, where people are terrified of sex that isn't "goal-oriented", where people work themselves into the ground even when there is absolutely no objective need to do so, where people punish themselves for every instance of enjoyment. I am all for hedonism but it's hardly hegemonic, unlike what Žižek wants to believe.

C) Patriarchy. According to Žižek, patriarchy is dead. The definition of patriarchy is "control by men of a disproportionately large share of power." Obviously, the percentages of men in Congress, boardrooms, leading positions in the media, the academia, etc. tell us that patriarchy is alive and well. Žižek, however, asks:
What becomes of patriarchal family values when a child can sue his parents for neglect and abuse, or when the family and parenthood itself are 'de jure' reduced to a temporary and dissolvable contract between independent individuals?
If anybody should know that the probability of abused children actually exercising their right to sue their parents is pretty much nil, it's a psychoanalyst. Still, Žižek grasps at this improbable scenario as an excuse for his statement that patriarchy is dead. It is a sad reality that a male philosopher who is not a male chauvinist as well is pretty much impossible to find, so Žižek's misogyny is not unexpected.

Žižek's Marxism:
 
A) Social bond. As a Marxist, Žižek needs to believe in the unsustainable idea that humans are collective rather than individualistic beings. As a result, he promotes the idea that social bonds are good at any cost. This leads him to make some pretty outlandish statements. He even goes as far as praising the practice of potlatch simply because as a result of it
we are all linked together by the bonds of debt. (41)
Of course, if one were to take this line of reasoning any further, one would arrive at a conclusion that the best relationships we can ever have are those we establish with our credit card companies.

B) Stalinism. One of the issues that Marxists today haven't been able to address convincingly is Stalinist terror. Žižek, of course, is way too intelligent to recur to the silly argument some people have used that Stalinism is the result of a perverted Marxism. He attempts to provide a more honest response but ends up providing an answer that he himself must perceive as pretty impotent since he hides it in a footnote:
The standard liberal-conservative argument against Communism is that, since it wants to impose on reality an impossible utopian dream, it necessarily ends in deadly terror. What, however, if one should nonetheless insist on taking the risk of enforcing the Impossible onto reality? Even if, in this way, we do not get what we wanted and/or expected, we nonetheless change the coordinates of what appears as "possible" and give birth to something genuinely new. (38)
At least, Žižek is honest enough to recognize that forcing upon people a collective existence that is so alien to the human nature will result in terror. He obviously has no argument to oppose to this self-evident fact. But he cannot give up on his Marxist dream either. Yes, there will be terror, Žižek says, but let's do it anyways. While I admire the honesty, I find it hard to see such a statement as intellectually convincing.

C) Love. Žižek 's revolutionary fervor leads him to discuss love in a way that sounds very childish:
But the hard lesson to be learned is that . . . when one confronts the choice between love and duty, duty should prevail. . . Perhaps there is no greater love than that of a revolutionary couple, where each of the two lovers is ready to abandon the other at any moment should the revolution demand it. (109) 
And this is somebody who has written beautifully about love before. Knowing Žižek 's origins, one can't but wriggle in vicarious shame when confronted by such a blatant instance of the cheapest Soviet-style propaganda being spouted by a great philosopher.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Knowing Žižek 's origins, one can't but wriggle in vicarious shame when confronted by such a blatant instance of the cheapest Soviet-style propaganda being spouted by a great philosopher. "

Agreed! I couldn't help laughing out loud when I read the description of "love among Bolsheviks". I respect Zizek but this was too much even coming from him.

Khephra said...

Sometimes it's more helpful to hear people's criticisms than their accolades. In this case I think they might go a long way in illuminating *your* "blindspots".

Humans as innately individualistic? Uhhh... That's a highly prejudiced reading of humanity and history. Too Randian for my liking too.

And ideology in Hollywood *is* news to some folks. I can't tell you how many arguments I've gotten into over the ideologies lurking beneath Disney's stories - even among
colleagues! And, even if this isn't news, perhaps the lens Zizek provides will inspire them to see things differently. Here I think your critique is mostly stylistic and biased.

Have you studied Kozybski/general semantics?

Clarissa said...

"Humans as innately individualistic? Uhhh... That's a highly prejudiced reading of humanity and history."

-Well, history supports my view, not Žižek 's. :-) The Soviet project was dead in the water long before anybody noticed precisely because collective interests do not exist. Both Rand and I have had a chance to observe that first-hand, although on different stages in the most famous experiment ever aimed at proving they do. :-)


"And ideology in Hollywood *is* news to some folks."

-I don't think those folks are very likely to read 400-pages-long book by Žižek. :-) The sentence that "even" Hollywood is ideological does sound childish. Come on, don't tell me you didn't laugh or at least smile.

Khephra said...

K. The fact that you could associate yourself with Rand's ideas makes it a lot easier to not take you seriously in this matter.

Leo said...

You forgot to mention the main part of Zizek's hypocrisy: he says he is so anti-capitalist but for some reason he doesn't place his new book online where everybody could have free access to his ideas. No, he prefers to sell it for a pretty steep price (I for one can't afford it) and make a profit. Seems like he only want those rich individuals who can fork out 30 bucks for a hardcover to be reached by his ideas. I can have no respect for that.

Clarissa said...

Khephra: I said on numerous occasions that there are many things in Rand I admire, so that's no secret. But of course it's hard to understand for those who have never lived in the Soviet Union. Of course, there are also many things in her that I find disgusting. It's just that a lot of what she says is clear to me on a visceral level in a way that no American would ever be able to get.

Leo: well, that's a very common trait for many of today's radicals. You see a guy who passionately defends the rights of women while chasing after his female students. A Marxist who will do anything to make more money this year than he made last year. An anarchist who sticks his tongue deep into his bosses ass in order to get promoted.

I have no doubt that Žižek is sincere in what he says. But leaving the capitalist economy at a huge financial cost to oneself is a very tough thing to do, obviously.

Clarissa said...

It makes me very happy that so many people are responding to these reviews. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing people engage passionately in intellectual debates. I am grateful to everybody who is reading these posts, twittering and reposting them, and leaving comments.

Khephra said...

"But of course it's hard to understand for those who have never lived in the Soviet Union."

Non sequitur, and poor form. I have the strong suspicion you know less about humanity than you think you do.

Anonymous said...

Leo: Žižek is against charity for ideological and political reasons. He wouldn't stoop to charity by placing his book in open acces.

Clarissa said...

Khephra: I have noticed a while ago that many Western progressives prefer to see us, the survivors of the Soviet regime, as a non sequitur. :-) Accepting that we exist and that our experiences are relevant would force them to reconsider their deeply held beliefs and that is too much work. :-) As you have seen from my review, Zizek doesn't have a response to the Stalinist terror either, so you are in good company, at least. :-)

Leo said...

I'm not saying he should put his books online free of charge because of charity. He should do it to spread his ideas around and to make them more accessible to people who have limited resources.

Khephra said...

And now you're interpolating and falling back on straw men. Again, poor form.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the line: "...the silly argument some people have used that Stalinism is the result of a perverted Marxism."

I can see how the argument would come across as silly given how often it's repeated by the poorly-informed, but doesn't it have some merit? Stalin embraced a weird sort of nationalism as opposed to the more international aspirations of Trotsky and Marx (though I don't mean to imply that Trotsky had the correct interpretation of Marx). Original Marxism would have called for an expansion of popular revolution, where Stalin selected the military methods of his capitalist contemporaries.

I should note that I don't mean this as a challenge but as a call for clarification.

Peter said...

I'm absolutely amazed you've managed to misread Zizek this well and have decided to speak from a position of authority on this, Clarissa. Bravo. Courage certainly is your forte.

If you'll allow me to take your criticisms seriously for a moment, I'll suggest that perhaps there are some blind spots in your thinking too:

1. Film is not a genre.

2. Film has no 'inherent' nature (it is, 'naturally', an artificial medium).

3. Žižek has been 'discovering' ideology in film for decades. This is hardly a new move, but he is of course looking at 'how it functions in the present'. Naughty form for critiquing the critic for being critical.

4. A total misunderstanding of the Lacanian analysis of the superego injunction to enjoy. See 'For They Do Not Know What They Do - Enjoyment as a Political Category' pg 7-11. (actually, read the whole thing - it is a cracker)

5. At no point in 'Living in the End Times' does Zizek announce the death of patriarchy. Moreover, he quotes from Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto: "The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations." He goes on to say, "...such an insight is still ignored by those leftist cultural theorist who focus their critique on patriarchal ideology and practice. Is it not time to start wondering about the fact that the critique of patriarchal "phallogocentrism" and so forth was elevated into the main question at the very historical moment - ours - when the patriarchy definitively lost its hegemonic role, when it was progressively swept away by the market individualism of rights?"

Is it time, Clarissa?

[I had a chuckle here myself after reading your affinities with Rand]

6. As you go on to note, rather strangely for someone who announces that they think Žižek is a great philosopher, that "As a Marxist, Žižek needs to believe in the unsustainable idea that humans are collective rather than individualistic beings." So much for your strawmaning of the Patriarchy as the big Other. Of course, I guess, as a Canadian (arguably a collective), you can proclaim such ignominious statements and 'naturally' forget that your Head of State is, of all the possible gender combinations, a woman.

7. Žižek doesn't 'praise' the practice of potlatch any more than Mauss does. It is simply a social fact of exchange. Read Mauss' 'The Gift' or the first chapter of Žižek's 'In Defense of Lost Causes'.

8. On Stalin: read chapter 5 of 'In Defense of Lost Causes.'

9. On Love: Kant said this. Duty is primary.

I'm a little (no - I'm under-dermining this - I'm VERY) confused why you even 'like' Žižek, let alone think he might be the greatest philosopher or whatever of our times. It doesn't even sound like you've read him. You clearly have massive problems with the three fundamental thinkers Žižek has had an unwavering fidelity to for twenty years (Hegel, Marx, Lacan), and you're clearly a slightly progressive liberal democratic capitalist with an ideologically determined big Other (the scary, monstrous Patriarchy who is the true cause of misery in your utopian individualistic 'human nature' [could you reread pages 25-35 in the chapter most aptly entitled 'Denial']}.

Again, I do stress, you've great courage Clarissa. I just don't see a lot of great wisdom or understanding in your review.

Peter

Peter said...

@ Clarissa

There's nothing to question here. You don't understand the fundamentals of the debate. You've not even bothered to answer my question of 'where' the Patriarchy actually exists. It is extraordinarily frustrating reading your comment that "It makes me very happy that so many people are responding to these reviews. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing people engage passionately in intellectual debates", only for you to shut the debate down by explicitly stating I'm parrotting (badly, apparently), oracular, practicing idolatry, being 'categorical', truly boring and submerged as a thinker. You've not answered any of my criticisms of your review (I'd say specifically because you can't! So much for your careful, painstaking analysis...), you've not taken any time to redress that perhaps Lacanians aren't misogynistic; that Hegel's categories of the universal, particular and singular have not been reduced to a singular 'individual' universality devoid of particularity; and that the whole raison d'être of Zizek's work is a re-scaffolding of a reassembled 'State-heavy' Marxist project. I must be absolutely embedded in some sort of phantasmatic virtual reality to believe that you might have picked this up whilst reading Zizek. Clearly I was wrong. Sorry for wasting your (and my) time on this, there's nothing to learn here.

Peter

Clarissa said...

Peter: I don't want to offend you but the problem with your comments is that you don't offer any criticisms of my review. You just reiterate ad nauseam some badly digested quotes from your idols.

Example: "8. On Stalin: read chapter 5 of 'In Defense of Lost Causes.'"

Or: "9. On Love: Kant said this. Duty is primary."

I don't know how to have a discussion with somebody for whom something has to be a God-given truth if Kant said it. Do YOU have an opinion on Stalinism? I'd love to hear about it. Do YOU have an opinion on "love among Bolsheviks"? Feel free to share.

But you don't seem to want an intellectual debate. You want to exchange quotes. That's what I call "1st year of grad school disease."

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Peter, I have to agree with Clarissa. I have no idea what you tried to say in your first comment in this thread. I also happen to disagree with some of the points made in this review but your objections sound very confusing. After reading them a couple of times I'm still not sure I know what you were trying to say.

Clarissa said...

I actually managed to find one useful question in Peter's comments:

"I'm a little (no - I'm under-dermining this - I'm VERY) confused why you even 'like' Žižek, let alone think he might be the greatest philosopher or whatever of our times."

It is a good question that definitely merits a response. I'm not looking for a grand narrative (need I explain why?) I'm not looking for a philosopher who will explain the universe to me. I'm not looking for one theory or worldview that would provide a neat explanation for everything. Such theory does not exist, so it would be wrong to expect Zizek or anybody else to provide it.

Thus, Zizek is valuable to me not because he provides me with ready-made answers for every possible question (like he apparently does for Peter who is capable to quote a page from Zizek even to the query of "How are you?"). I value him because of the questions he asks. Zizek makes me think, argue, come up with my own answers. If anything, he reminds me how intellectual quietism is wrong and useless.

I think that he is the greatest living philosophers because his questioning is so relentless.

It is sad to see, though, how many people are still waiting for the party line to be announced to them so that they can agree with everything in advance.

JazzPK said...

It's funny how people transform Žižek who's so much into denouncing all kinds of "sacred cows" into yet another "sacred cow."

You got yourself into a huge pickle here by messing with this vocal group of Žižek's followers who worship the ground he treads on and write down and memorize every word he says.

You'd have a lot more luck arguing about the Gospels with an evangelical preacher. For these guys though Žižek is the absolute authority that cannot be questioned. The best thing you can do when they start attacking is just ignore them.

Khephra said...

@Peter: Do you blog? If so, where? and do you discuss any of these topics there?

Khephra said...

@JazzPK: Generalized flippancy might be premature - and projection.

Zizek definitely has acolytes of the type you describe. Nevertheless, I'm certainly not in that category - I've only read a few of his books and often struggle through them. However, his ideologic discourse is analogous with and complimentary to my grad research, so I have no problem with making my own interpretations. @Peter, for 'his' part, seems far more informed in the literature than I am or would claim to be. And given that we're talking about Zizek, that implies a great deal of other lines of analysis too (e.g. Lacan, Hegel, Marcuse, Kant, etc). In my case it's taken me years of study to come to any constructive understanding of these models, and I'd have a difficult time being so dismissive of anyone who took the time to explore and integrate these lenses.

But I guess we all have to be discriminitory in how we invest our time...

Anonymous said...

I wish you'd addressed the objection to the review where the commenter says that 'Film has no 'inherent' nature.'

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: there is nothing here for me to address because I never made any such statement. I said that Zizek is sometimes "oblivious to the nature of the movies he discusses." Not "inherent nature of film at large" but the ideological nature of specific Hollywood movies a specific critic discusses.

JKLopez-Martillo said...

I quit reading after I got to the part where he defends the cult of personality. At that point I really lost interest for anything more he can say.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these great reviews. They helped me figure out whether I need to buy the book.

Thanks!!

eric said...

Wow, quite a discussion here. Though I've long since decided against a career in academia and have been out of the grad school game for a while, I still enjoy keeping afloat. I haven't read this one yet, but pretty much everything up to The Parallax View. Your concerns about Zizek pretty much mirror the ones I've always had about the writer, in addition to his sometimes brazen disregard for facts (owing, in no small measure, to his indebtedness to high German Idealism), and to the fact that his prose can at certain points seem self-serving or opportunistic. I myself am an admirer of Schopenhauer (no great feminist, I know), and think that all psychoanalysts rip him off without acknowledgment, anyways. Great blog, and I'll stay tuned!

Clarissa said...

Thank you, Eric. I agree completely on Schopenhauer and on Zizek's opportunism.

Dennis said...

a) hollywood - as peter said, zizek has been looking for ideology in movies for awhile now. you say it's a childish fascination, but there is nothing trivial/simple about mass consumed films. they're popular because they resonate with our inner fantasies. calling zizek childish seems to me a basic ideological operation anyway (it's so weird that he's into cartoons! a grown man! how shameful...) and not really an engagement with the novel lacanian view he provides. he is giving you the tip of the iceburg with that quoted statement.

b) hedonism - zizek is saying that it only appears to be hedonistic permisiveness, that our pleasure seeking comes with ever more prohibitions (jogging, sex for health, don't smoke, etc.) you two almost agree except consumerism is not masochistic, because a masochist wants to be an object of pleasure to be hurt for the Other. it is more that today enjoyment itself becomes an unbearable superegoic duty. we feel guilty if we're not "living life to the fullest", which happens to be following the market logic, and so on.

c) patriarchy - there's a difference between patriarchy and inequality in gender representation. he is talking about the disintegration of the form of authority. today a dad will exert a totally non-patriarchal authority, the "you don't have to do it unless you want to" routine, which belies an even more dangerous injunction: "not only do you have to do it, you must enjoy it!" similarly, politicians do not exert a personal authority but rather appeal to the "people", which means, "if you are against me then you are against the people!" this is part of a larger event zizek calls the "loss of symbolic efficiency". a female leader could also "be patriarchal" in the sense of exerting her own will over her subjects.

---

a) "As a Marxist, Žižek needs to believe in the unsustainable idea that humans are collective rather than individualistic beings."

no, it is rather that the individuals must sometimes (now) find the urge to be a collective, to take collective action. currently the west borrows from the future to prolong its collapse, which forces it into self-revolution. this is the true unsustainable idea.

b) "At least, Žižek is honest enough to recognize that forcing upon people a collective existence that is so alien to the human nature will result in terror."

we are being forced into collective existence regardless. zizek's four horsemen will compel humans to enact a new order together. as he said regarding robespierre, "virtue without terror is powerless, terror without virtue is blind."

---

@jazzPK there's a difference between reading enough of a theoretical edifice to adequately question it, and holding it as sacred. but perhaps you are too harsh on the Gospels? what is a political commitment today if not a "holding sacred" of some ideal?

Clarissa said...

"hollywood - as peter said, zizek has been looking for ideology in movies for awhile now. you say it's a childish fascination, but there is nothing trivial/simple about mass consumed films. "

-What made me laugh was the word "even" in the quote about Hollywood movies. I like Zizek's analysis of Hollywood films but it does seem that often he finds too much depth where there is hardly any.

"what is a political commitment today if not a "holding sacred" of some ideal?"

-Agree 100%! Very well-said.

Thank you for this great comment, Dennis. I have to run now but hope to respond to it in more detail later.

Josephine said...

@Dennis:

You say: "Patriarchy - there's a difference between patriarchy and inequality in gender representation. he is talking about the disintegration of the form of authority. today a dad will exert a totally non-patriarchal authority."

Have you noticed how many Tv shows, books, movies, articles, etc. come out where a father "defends" his daughter's sexuality from men who might want to rob HIM of HER virginity? That isn't patriarchy? All of these "Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter"? The father has the authority to set the rules of how his daughter, his property, his THING, should me approached.

By the way, chastity balls where adolescent girls pledge their virginity to their fathers are also indicative of the fact that patriarchy is alive and well.

Dennis said...

@Josephine good point, but i don't think patriarchy is the primary form today. for most, pledging virginity to the dad is considered very odd. there are more counter examples in media where females answer to no male figure. when i see the figure of the dad "protecting" his daughter it always seems like an impotent gesture. in those cases isn't it usually that the girl desires the boy she's protected from even more intensely? although patriarchy may be alive and well, i don't think you can account for the new, PC forms of asserting power that predominate politics today using only this concept.

Clarissa said...

Marilyn French, in her great book Beyond Power, defines patriarchy as follows: a system that values power over life, control over pleasure, and dominance over happiness.

Isn't that exactly what we have in our society?

Dennis: I'm glad you agree that patriarchy is "alive and well." I observe the sad reality of society thinking that female bodies are not the property of women themselves but of others all the time. The female body is studied, controlled, punished, policed, given in exchange for something all the time. Women in the US still massively abandon their own names in favor of their husbands. They are still "given away" in marriage by their father, exchanging hands between two males like a piece of property. Women still for the most part don't believe that their lives belong to them. Their lives are often defined by the massive anxiety to become part of the patriarchal family (get married, have children) and this anxiety is stoked by the mass media. Women ALWAYS answer to the figure of patriarchal authority. Only nowadays it isn't always the actual father. It is often the voice of patriarchal propaganda they hear in their head.

I would absolutely love to see any evidence that patriarchy is going somewhere in the direction of dying but I see absolutely no evidence of that.

Dennis said...

@Clarissa

"...a system that values power over life, control over pleasure, and dominance over happiness."

these oppositions are problematic to me. imagine if this system was inverted - we would have powerless life, uncontrolled pleasure, and submissive happiness - in other words, we would have contradictions. the former terms are pre-requisite for the latter.

i totally agree that women (along with others in the sex spectrum) are systematically exploited. but are we really doing this issue justice by attacking power, control, and dominance in all its forms? power is necessary to correct injustices, control is necessary to make a political will coherent, and sometimes you have an enemy (fascists we can agree on) that needs to be dominated.

it is exactly these terms "power", "control", "dominance" which are missing in the western-liberal rhetoric. even if you wanted to attack the patriarchy, you wouldn't find it consciously in our leaders. instead you find someone well versed in all the PC terms. a politician could easily appropriate the quote, but can you imagine someone attempting to argue for more power, dominance, and control? zizek's argument is that although power isn't asserted symbolically (in the form of political will) today, it nonetheless resides in the real, and is thus more dangerous.

as far as women answering to the patriarchy, i think there's a fine line between fixing the material conditions of inequality, educating those who want it, etc. and being condescending. if a woman truly has the right to her body, then she has a right to exploit herself as well. this goes for women who wear burqas just as much as those who engage in self destructive acts. pity does no good.

Asp said...

As a quick clarification, I think that Zizek sees the direction of parts of academia and mainstream culture as 'hedonistic.'

Clearly there is a part of society resents hedonism (conservatives, etc.), but in general, especially in disciplines such as Queer Theory, cultural shows such as those seen on MTV, and the Self-Help Movement, etc., there is also a part of society that is constantly telling us how 'suppressed' our sexuality is, how much we should (must?) learn to be happy, etc. I think this is what Zizek is criticizing when he attacks 'hedonism.'

I try to draw this distinction because while I agree with Zizek, I also had your same reaction to this notion.

Clarissa said...

"there is also a part of society that is constantly telling us how 'suppressed' our sexuality is"

-I swear to God, I am yet to meet this part of society. Where has it been hiding?? :-) :-)

pat said...

-I swear to God, I am yet to meet this part of society. Where has it been hiding?? :-) :-)

Montreal.

Also, you say that history is on the side of your view that humans are innately individualistic, but isn't it also on the side that humans are innately racist, sexist, etc.? Point being, if you believe in a static human nature, we're all doomed because there is no hope to be found then in the last 10,000 years of humanity..

Clarissa said...

Ah, I guess I don't know Montreal as well as I thought I did. :-)

I don't think that "innately individualistic" and "innately racist/sexist" are the same thing at all. Me belief in the inherently individualistic nature of humans comes from the fact that we are locked, so to speak, inside our own minds. It is only possible to make a very small part of our personalities known even to people who are closest to us.

A Russian writer Dudintsev suggests the metaphor of a sand clock for the relationship of people with the universe. A human being stays in one part of the clock and the rest of the world remains in the other part. There is only a tiny little passage that allows things to seep slowly from one part of the sand clock into another. I think this metaphor is very apt.

pat said...

That's a wonderful metaphor for the fact that human's are just individual, but divided within their very fragile "selves." What I'm trying to say is profound solitude and cheap individualism are not the same. Individualism means to each his own. A fascist is just an eccentric. I find this a dangerous mode of thinking that can only obscure the truth as it is held equivocally next to falsities or "eccentricities." But I'm a dinosaur who believes in right and wrong.