Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Parallel Lines: Spinoza and Foucault (by way of Deleuze)


The pile that I am working through

I think that it is safe to say that Foucault never really got that interested in the revival of Spinoza that took off in France in the late sixties. As far as I can tell the only sustained reference to Spinoza appears in his lectures on the Will to Know, and there in that text, he considers Spinoza much in the same way that Nietzsche did, as someone who named the will to knowledge, but did not criticize or problematize it. As Foucault writes,

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Fun with Hegel and Kojève: On Matthieu Renault's Maîtres et Esclaves: Archives du Laboratoire de Mythologiques de la Modernité


Perhaps it is time to have fun with Hegel. In the past year I have now read two books that have taken up a relation to Hegel that could be referred to as playful, which is not to say that the stakes or questions of these books are not serious. The first was Gray and Johnson's Phenomenology of Black Spirit, which posed the scandalous, and even heretical question, what if the subject of Hegel's Phenomenology was black. The second it Matthieu Renault's Maîtres et Esclaves: Archives du Laboratoire de Mythologiques de la Modernité. Both books in different ways show how that Hegel's thought can be all the more productive,  and all the more interesting, if one changes from the question what did Hegel mean (admittedly not an easy question) to what does Hegel make it possible to say. (Also oddly enough, both books read Hegel's dialectic against the actual struggle of Frederick Douglass to liberate himself from his master). 

Sunday, July 07, 2024

Farce Before Tragedy: The Post-Satire Present


I used to listen to a film podcast, I forget the name of it, the worked on the premise that there were certain films, that should be outside of discussion, films so good and revered that it did not make sense to talk about them. They were put in a penalty box of sorts. I often thought the same thing about certain passages that appear again and again in theoretical and philosophical discussions of the present. A few that come to mind are Jameson's often cited remark about it being easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, Benjamin's "There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism," and Marx's first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.