Monday, October 25, 2010

Technocrats don't know what cosmopolitanism is, they only know what they want it to be. As with discussions of humanism they refer to their assumptions, and philosophy professors and historians follow different definitions of that word. [Realism in philosophy and political science are unrelated, so the problem is entirely different.]

Historically, cosmopolitanism is an assumption of universalism only as overlaying the particular. It's the acceptance of contradiction, not the assumption that it can, will, or even should be overcome. Technocracy cannot value the particular. It couldn't function if it did, and overdetermined particularism as narcissism is blowback. What's been missing from this argument is that it's not a blowback from technocracy as such but from the idealization of technocracy as "Modernism". Modernity, as a fact, needs to be separated from its romance.

I've referred more than once to the anti-humanism of science culture and of the culture of tattoos and tribalism. Click through again to find the description of the photo below, or just click here.

Science Tattoos and Chefs' tattoos
Also to the humanism implicit in the transformation of contemporary Islam.

2004: A protester against a proposed ban on headscarves, Lille, Northern France. Notice the tricolor.

2004 Tehran

Tattoos act now as a form of ideologizing armor: a mark of overdetermined individualism in a culture and age of anonymity. The equivalent in Islam would be the radicalized sons and daughters of assimilated immigrants, girls who adopt the burqa in rebellion against their parents' wishes, transforming an act of public discretion into an act of aggression, accepting the western judgment of foreignness and using it as a weapon. Defensive radicalism is always a sign of insecurity. The settler extremists are deeply insecure in their overdetermined Jewishness. But who's to judge confidence from insecurity, conservative from reactionary?
From 2006 [but going back 20 years earlier]
In the five lectures on psychoanalysis Freud says that as the result of a successful treatment repression is replaced by "a condemning judgment". He doesn't explain the difference between the two. What's the difference between "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother" and "I don't want to kill my father and sleep with my mother"

["What then, becomes of the unconscious wishes which have been set free by psycho-analysis? along what paths do we succeed in making them harmless to the subject's life? There are several such paths. The most frequent outcome is that, while the work is actually going on, theses wishes are destroyed by the rational mental activity of the better impulses that are opposed to them. Repression is replaced by a condemning judgment carried out along the best lines. That is possible because wheat we have to get rid of is to a great extent only the consequences arising from earlier stages of the ego's development. The subject only succeeded in the past in repressing the unserviceable instinct because he himself was at that time still imperfectly organized and feeble. In his present-day maturity and strength, he will perhaps be able to master what is hostile to him with complete success."]
If life is social life then others judge us as we judge them. It's up to our audience to decide if our performative displays are open or defensive. And we are the audience for others' actions. As I've said -and everything here I've said before- in Turkey the hijab is more modern than the symbolism of the military.

Earlier tonight my neighbor told me he's gotten a break; he's not going to do any time. He was arrested a few months ago for pistol-whipping someone on the subway in a drunken rage (the gun was legal). And he's going to be able to keep his job. I told him I was happy for him, which I am. He showed me the head of Jesus that he's having tattooed on the left side of his chest and stomach. He said the one his mother won't be so happy about, also of Jesus, will be on the other side; the face will have horns and will be screaming in pain. I said Jesus had had a hard life. He said it was probably closer to the expression Jesus had on his face before he died. We talked for a few minutes. He said it doesn't matter what side you worship, you'll will be taken care of, but that now he's worshiping "the better angel." I said life is complex. He said no, it's simple. It's just hard.

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