Front Album Cover of Corrupted’s 1995 Nadie
Beginning one of his many books, 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard writes a preface. In the book I have in mind this is followed by another and that by yet another. This book of Kierkegaard’s is a book of them. A book of beginnings of books.
i live in san francisco.
I read. I write. I listen to Corrupted and the Melvins.
My aesthetic is the literary and the λόγος, and the zeitgeist of the longue durée–the auld lang syne. This aesthetic is the love of Des Esseintes and jewel-encrusted, murdered tortoises. Like Bernardo Soares, all I want to possess is the sensation of these words.
It’s their image—material and substantial like those scents and colors of the house of Huysmans’s protagonist—that might well be read in trace here.
I want to use them.
As Audre Lorde had said, at Harvard, “In what way do I contribute to the subjugation of any part of those who I call my people?”
As a dead white man once wrote yet another white man to have said about a clearly not altogether completely different question, that is the question, and I aim to see admonishment for infelicities.
As Grace Kyungwon Hong recently wrote, for dehumanizing disavowals.
For that Banana Republic, where all roads lead to a Rome of the worst in us all. If, in the end, there will be things leftover to use, far be it from me to discover them so. I am here to problematize the problematic. I leave it to my work elsewhere to come up with ‘positive projects’.
As Warsan Shire said, we can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should’ve already told us that.
These city lights ever the countercultural moment, I live in the bay view, beneath the avenues built during the fin de siècle of San Francisco’s golden age. Outlying these avenues, I read the books of my intellectual heritage, the west, like an appalling manifest destruction. There’s no science in such catastrophic images. There is horror and subjugation. There are lies and murders.
We’d come to California to kill and conquer—as to the New World, to the Old World—to take. In philosophy, while not at the frontlines, this is no different. Its decadence has already revealed that structures of power are structures of thought—structures of theory, belief, and conviction.
Genocidal structures of no quarter.
Jacques-Louis David’s 1787 The Death of Socrates (partial)
I am a philosopher. My name is Aenesidemus, for this venture into being terse. I come to be known as someone who had come to be known as a philosopher and I will be forgotten much as they have been—with the little of their work there is it’s enough to note they were a skeptic and be done with it—and there, too, is affinity. The skepsis of the Greeks slew those philosophers for their ways—wrote their treatises about ways to give up their own theories let alone having to listen to the exhortations of the preponderant and domineering acolytes of others.
fuck right the fuck off.
To repurpose something profound published last year by Sara Ahmed—with an eye to recompense by discussing her perceptive and critical thoughts later this year, as a first debt as columnist, I think: “An affinity of hammers.”
To meet hammers. In the end, as Toril Moi wrote, even feminism’s aim is to abolish itself.
To fix this fucking shit and have been fucking done with it.
As Toni Cade Bambara wrote, “The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible.”
Sublime and profound ideas.
I work to consider myself the consummate professional, in such regard. I believe no less than Dr. Cornel West tweeted just this last Valentine’s Day: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
I’m an actor of the university industrial complex, as I’ve heard and rather appreciate it called. I might talk the talk with the somewhat ‘best’ of them, I think, yes—I cited the references.
Power reflecting power. And, yes. Plato. It’s called a conversation. One is a part of it, and yet still it’s a thing, yes. Absurd, I know.
This column is bifurcated as a dialogue, and, so, reflects the writer’s interest in logic and the ideas of contradiction and dissent. The dialectic is pedagogical, heaving from critic-as-student to critic-as-teacher and back—helical.
In this rhetorical quality, it reflects my interests in learning and academia. I speak to learning and to teaching as Heidrun Friese spoke to the hotel and the guest, so to speak. Inasmuch as the set eye to phenomenology, existentialism, and the literary—as it is with Aristotle, the proliferation of ways of knowing goes hand-in-hand with that of the same of being.
As the laundry list, I discuss love, art, truth, justice, certainty, insanity, sovereignty, and elements of ethical persuasion. I explore literature and culture.
Lagoa Henriques’ 1988 Fernando Pessoa statue
“we’ve been devastated by the severest and deadliest drought in history — that of our profound awareness of the futility of all effort and the vanity of all plans.”
That is how Fernando Pessoa began The Education of the Stoic, which comes to us as fragments. History later found the manuscript in an old trunk. Pessoa was dead.
Seventy years earlier in 1851, Arthur Schopenhauer wrote down bleak notes on the “worthlessness and vanity” of existence, unless we strive in vain after distraction despite an abject condition, after transient impermanence, and spent the last thirty years of his life in quiet futility, alone in his house with small dogs. Pessoa drank himself to death. This drought they write of is quite the devastator.
Pessoa was an early 20th-century Portuguese poet and writer who wrote prolifically and haphazardly, and created no less than 60 distinct pseudonyms. Soares was one of them. Pessoa was an artist. He engaged in automatic writing, founded art movements, published in magazines, and held a respected position in Lisbon’s intellectual scene.
Pessoa lived a craft. Ophelia Queiroz, the love of his life, was several times greeted by the fictitious poet Álvaro de Campos instead of Pessoa during their fleeting courtship. He called his pseudonyms heteronyms, and they were identities for most of which he created whole biographies and histories.
They were ideal representatives of intimate and reflective writings.
Last year at a conference in the port city of Porto, off the coast of the continent and country of my maternal heritage, I’d discussed Pessoa’s work. At a philosophy conference, I explained the work of a writer. I described a desire to expand the philosophical canon to writers and minds that didn’t write treatises like Hume or critiques like Kant, yet exemplify those last shrieking lessons of what scholars like Wittgenstein and Feyerabend set down.
That there’s an entire world out there. That it means something, and always has and it’s all nothing new. Our ivory institution has simply ignored it, towering above like some autistic savant.
I aim to be a philosophical skeptic, as columnist. Like Aenesidemus, I will work to extrapolate on what the 20th-century thinks it found out: that finding things out is an open-ended conversation.
I am influenced, and aim to comment on all these past and westphalian goings-on. I make no secret that the relation between the west and the world today is of marked concern, as I aim to illuminate elements of pervasive and problematic ethical and political circumstances that find as their genesis the antagonisms and parasitisms of that relation.
To repurpose the name of an old skeptic from a ‘school’ contending language vicious, my thoughts will be set on the thought of conceptual and epistemic revolution.
Screenshot of Paolo Sorrentino’s 2013 La Grande Bellezza (partial)
I have ideas for the coming months, though everything flows. I’ll explore Carroll and Foucault on the mad, Kant and Wittgenstein on the conversant, and Ahmed and Spivak on the political. Boris’ Amplifier Worship and Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza might feature. I’ve also got hold of a study of the lives and loves of women poets and writers of the Caribbean, by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley. Cixous will inevitably show up in places. Los.
The involvement of the writer in culture is organic, and a part of how everything flows. If the past is gone, it is only here as the present. As you and I are. Culture is the multifarious and interpolated existence of myriad and idiosyncratic individuals—whether Deleuze lasts for days, or speculative realism dies the sudden, tragic death of the left behind, or Lorde points to the serious and deficient want of the righting of wrongs.
I want the righting of wrongs. I want the right rules. I want love and honor, not hate or fear.
Some contemporary views note that Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is leading to his Politics, yet the Philosopher—Aristotle’s medieval sobriquet—was not under the odd impression that the most important goal in Greek life—in the lives of those with which he lived—was to be politicians. To think of it as such, is to neglect historicization. The Lyceum is not San Francisco State University.
Aristotle’s point, I think, if we’re bent to give it conceptual space to breathe, is at its most charitable along the lines we heard—from consciousness-raising group to art installation, from demonstration to deliberation—during the women’s rights movement and the modern revitalization of feminism.
If eudaimonia is anything today, it is that the personal is political.
This column is personal, in such a sense. Quite like Pessoa, that I am pseudonymous does nothing to sway this. This column is Aenesidemus as the terse columnist and critic. I’m already responsible for a series of dramatic and musical compositions—tragedies and songs. A columnist, however, is something to add. There’s a sense of relevance.
there’s things to discuss.
I’m under the impression there are a staggering number of wrongs to be addressed, if not redressed, about the world. There is structural, hierarchical, and hegemonic oppression. There is something to be said.
Culture is essential—as lesson and plan. The mantra for this column is that lives are always in the balance. The personal is political. Lives are always in the balance.
We philosophers of the west love our conceptual clarity, so emphasizing that finality, of necessity, there, modally, is characteristic. Emphasizing the lives is what’s overlooked.
The Winged Nike marble statue c. 200-190 BCE
lives are always in the balance.
Pessoa wrote The Education of the Stoic using a pseudonym he called The Baron of Teive.
The Baron is pure reason embodied in text and character. Due to that drought, Pessoa has the Baron writing us a suicide note.
The preeminent rationalist finding no guide for living because, the Baron writes, the first function of life is action: a wholly intellectual life is an existential contradiction.
To think is to create an interpretation of the universe, he writes, that is a mere hallucination.
There is a metaphor that illustrates what he means in a marble statue sculpted in Hellenistic Greece at the beginning of the century after Zeno began holding his school at the Stoa, and often identified as the most famous piece of the period.
One of its names is The Winged Nike. It’s a fantastical representation of the Greek deity Nike, the goddess of victory. The winged immortal stands tall and forthright, often appraised as forcing her way forward against a strong sea breeze to signal triumph.
This statue is a striking analogue because of this perceived posture and intent, which is reminiscent of the pride the Baron feels in his conquering of that Caesar of Reality by suicide, but also because the statue no longer has its head or arms.
The Baron writes of the simple egoism of the Greeks, their Protagorean man as measure of world, and that modern culture is imbued with a tragic complex of Schopenhauerian temperament.
The statue of victory today is without a head or arms.
Modern reason achieves victory over itself by its own act destroying itself, headless and senseless.
Inorganic and empty, Pessoa’s Baron commits suicide because reason describes only the reasoner.
The world is for the unreasonable and the inhumane. Reality is for the mad.
i am mad.
I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.
I’m going to do something about it.
1. Corrupted’s 1995 Esclavo off EP Nadie
2. Joyce Manor’s 2010 Five Beer Plan off EP Constant Headache
3. Dæphne’s 2015 Sharpness Is the Game I Play off EP Full Circle
4. The Melvins’ 1991 Boris off LP Bullhead
5. From Monument to Masses’ 2003 Comrades and Friends off LP The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps
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