Monday, March 26, 2007

No new posts?

Sorry to all those who are reading this and wondering when the next post will come along. Nothing I've been doing recently seems to fit into the blog format, so my visits have been largely limited to removing the "comments" hawking fake Vi-a-qra or linking to porn sites. Some days that's a full-time job.

For what it's worth: I'm moving in two directions right now in my work. The myth book is no more, but some of its material is going into a new chain of essays tentatively called The Discipline of the Invisible. Some of that material may get some play here. The main theme of this work is the impossibility of generating a coherent theory that can show us the way out of our current trap. Moving through a study of some other ways of constructing experience, the essays close by suggesting that we view economic activity as a means of structuring time instead of a system of producing and allocating goods. It leads to an all-or-nothing kind of political aporia.

The other work is going to be longer in the preparation, though I may post a detailed outline some time soon. It's titled The Forgotten Question, or, The Birth of Modernity out of the Spirit of Reaction. The central figure in this piece of intellectual history is the late-eighteenth-century philosopher Fichte, and its theme comes from Marx's famous maxim that "the philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point is, to change it." The odd thing is that Fichte and those closely influenced by him were determined to change the world, and they were so moved by the critical philosophy that they were developing out of a radicalized Kantianism.

My argument, in a couple of sentences, is that Fichte and the Jena romantics brought the Enlightenment project to its completion, as they turned Kant's self-critique of reason to critique consciousness itself. The restoration in 1815 and the transformation of idealism from a matter of "seeing" to one of "being" in Schelling and Hegel helped conceal this breakthrough so thoroughly that Marx didn't seem to have heard of it at all. Modernity claims to inherit the Enlightenment project, but Fichte's activism and commitment to practice were its real heirs. Our world is not the fruit of the Century of Light; it's a shallow imitation of that period, founded on the fear of its unsettling and liberating energies.

And I'm also preparing a small site on the operas of Rimsky-Korsakov, so I can post dubs of two old Soviet-era recordings which have never been widely available.

If anyone is interested, I'll be speaking at Symposium Books in Providence, Rhode Island, on Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 pm.


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