Fundamentalist punk rock art collective The Mekons present their "hymn for Brexit," Fear & Beer. This track, like the rest of their new album Existentialism, was recorded on a single microphone in a single evening in front of a paying audience. The 75 attendees, dubbed the Mekoristers and credited by their names in the liner notes of the album, sang backing vocals in the style of Phil Minton's famous feral choirs. They become almost another instrument or sound effect — a distant, disconcerting drone or howl that permeates songs of political unrest and social chaos. Plus, you can dance to them (or simply shout along). [more inside]
At Philosop-her, Meena Krishnamurthy invites women in philosophy to introduce themselves and their work. For example, Elizabeth Barnes, "Confessions of a Bitter Cripple": "I have sat in philosophy seminars where it was asserted that I should be left to die on a desert island ... I have been told that, while it isn't bad for me to exist, it would've been better if my mother could've had a non-disabled child instead ... And these things weren't said as the conclusions of careful, extended argument ... They were the kind of thing you skip over without pause because it's the uncontroversial part of your talk." [more inside]
Personality, and a whole lot more. August always stirs up memories of going back to school for me. This year, I've been scratching the academic itch with some fine online classwork by the University of Toronto's Jordan B. Peterson. If you like Jung, Freud, Personality you might find his youtube channel a profitable place to hang out. [more inside]
The FBI files on being and nothingness. "From 1945 onwards, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI spied on Camus and Sartre. The investigation soon turned into a philosophical inquiry…" [Via]
Franz Kafka's hallucinatory A Country Doctor anime by Kōji Yamamura. The original text is very short.
An angry crow mocked me this morning. I couldn’t finish my croissant, and fled the café in despair.— and other excerpts from Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre
Cioran's literary elitism is unparalleled in modern literature, and for that reason he often appears as a nuisance for modern and sentimental ears poised for the lullaby words of eternal earthly or spiritual bliss. Cioran's hatred of the present and the future, his disrespect for life, will certainly continue to antagonize the apostles of modernity who never tire of chanting vague promises about the "better here-and-now." ... If one could reduce the portrayal of Cioran to one short paragraph, then one must depict him as an author who sees in the modern veneration of the intellect a blueprint for spiritual gulags and the uglification of the world. Indeed, for Cioran, man's task is to wash himself in the school of existential futility, for futility is not hopelessness; futility is a reward for those wishing to rid themselves of the epidemic of life and the virus of hope. Probably, this picture best befits the man who describes himself as a fanatic without any convictions--a stranded accident in the cosmos who casts nostalgic looks towards his quick disappearance. - Tomislav Sunic [more inside]
What would have happened if a science fiction classic had been written by the father of French philosophy? Existential Star Wars. Extra special bonus: a little girl feels the power of the dark side.
Fallen [SLVimeo]. A bit of melancholy existentialism? An atheist manifesto? Just an adorable animated short? In any case, it's the saddest, sweetest, most wonderful thing I've seen all week.
As translation contretemps go, the one surrounding French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86) and her foundational work of modern feminism, Le Deuxième Sexe, first published in two volumes in French in 1949, remains one of the most tempestuous and fascinating. For decades, Beauvoir scholars in the English-speaking world bemoaned, attacked, and sought to replace the widely used 1953 translation by H.M. Parshley (1884-1953), a zoologist at Smith College who knew little philosophy or existentialism, had never translated a book from French, and relied mainly on his undergraduate grasp of the language. A few years back, they succeeded in getting the rights holders [...] to commission a new translation. [... But] Norwegian Beauvoir scholar Toril Moi, a professor at Duke and one of the foremost critics of Parshley's translation, savaged the new version in the London Review of Books. [...] How everyone involved got from vituperative discontent to hopeful triumph and back to discontent makes an instructive tale in itself and offers some lessons for what matters and doesn't in the evolution of a classic.
Pandora, Prometheus, and Pessimism. "Pessimism deserves serious consideration in today’s culture of Oprah-quick-fix happiness, Prozac induced euphoria, and unjustified optimism for our species. Unlike Oprah and Prozac, pessimism is not easy to swallow. It is time we consider this tradition in a culture steeped in farcical, puerile conceptions of happiness; an environment where every person who is able to grin on a book-cover can tell us how to achieve happiness now; where angels or god or some other fairy-tale character cares about our actions in this world. Life is not a grand, heroic narrative with a happy ending. It is not a place where we are overcoming obstacles in order to achieve a time in our lives of perfect serenity. In order to combat such serious obstructions to clear-thought, boundaries to reality and gateways to delusion, pessimism can help us shape our thoughts on matters which resonate with all us rational, bipedal apes."
The Global Oneness Project is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can be lived in our increasingly complex world. They travel the globe gathering stories from creative and courageous people who base their lives and work on the understanding that we bear great responsibility for each other and our shared world. [more inside]
Talk to iGod, the God chatterbot. If you're in the right frame of mind, he's pretty hilarious. If you are feeling neglected by God in other contexts, he will seem very familiar. He does not pass the Turing test. He speaks in riddles, appears to know very little about you, and he hangs up on you after a few minutes. When you log back on, he says he does not remember. A lot like Waiting for Godot, in fact. (He said he didn't know about that either.)
Unless you read Danish, there have been few primary texts by Søren Kierkegaard on the internet. I've always blamed the gentle tyranny of the Hong family, who control the English translations. But this site has begun supplying full texts: Fear and Trembling, The Sickness unto Death, The Concept of Anxiety, even the mammoth Philosophical Fragments!
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a German thinker who came to America in 1933 after losing his job for opposing the national socialism movement. Tillich was at once a protestant theologian and an existentialist philosopher and humanist who attempted to intellectualize religion and bring it to contemporary audiences in the age of science. His brilliant writings and speeches would typically weave together biblical passages with discussions of philosophy and science. In this most famous work, The Courage to Be, Tillich laid out his case of how man can resolve the existential crisis of facing non-being. In echoes of Soren Kierkegaard and Freud, Tillich attempted to explain how man could resolve the fear of nothingness with the Courage to Be in the face of Non-being. Throughout his life, Tillich's ultimate concern was to try to help man understand the real value of faith and meaning by divorcing the concepts from the myths and the religious and social dogmas which cramp the mind of modern man.
Sartre at 100. Today would have been philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's 100th birthday. Despite renewed interest in him in France, there is some question as to what the legacy of this man is - whether as author, philosopher, playwright, or communist. He was noted for radical views on freedom both in the philosophical and political senses, less so for his recipes. What does he mean today?
Saturday night and nothing to do? No worries, just kick back your heels, have a glass of wine, and Tesh your cares away.