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2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Nothing (2000) - Paul Morley

In search of beautiful book covers.

Nothing (2000) - Paul Morley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Nothing is a biographical book reflecting on Paul Morley father's suicide and that of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

Paul Morley (born March 26, 1957 in Stockport, Cheshire) is an English music journalist, who wrote for the New Musical Express from 1977 to 1983, during one of its most successful and relatively notorious periods, and has since written for a wide number of publications. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Morley [Jun 2006]

See also: music journalism - suicide

2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Words And Music: A History Of Pop In The Shape Of A City (2003) - Paul Morley

Words And Music: A History Of Pop In The Shape Of A City (2003) - Paul Morley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Words and Music: the history of pop in the shape of a city is a book charting the history of popular music, by the acclaimed music journalist and cultural commentator Paul Morley. Its style is highly idiosyncratic, and it takes the form of a robotic Kylie Minogue travelling, with Morley, in a cyber-car towards a city of "sound and ideas."

The starting point for this highly unusual, yet scholarly history of popular music are Morley's favourite pieces at the time of writing: Kylie Minogue's electro-pop song "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and Alvin Lucier's experimental "I am sitting in a room". From these seemingly unrelated musical compositions Morley reflects on the meanings of music in its many contradictory forms: the avant-garde and pop; the iconic and the obscure, the mechanical and the digital, the commercial and the creative, the human and the robotic.

Along the way a host of musical greats rear their heads (and sounds), followed by digressions into the point of writing about music, as well as the writer's own place in the canon of music writing. Ultimately the book is a set of lists of the great and the good in music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Words_and_Music:_the_history_of_pop_in_the_shape_of_a_city [Jun 2006]

The glittering metropolis towards which Paulie and Kylie are driving in Words and Music the capital city of Pleasure , the concrete city of information always struck me as no place I d really care to visit. I imagined it as being something like an unimaginably vast and shinily sterile music megastore. That, or like the interior of an iPod, an impossibly dense, coldly seething non-space of sound transubstantiated into data. At one point Morley describes it as a city of lists , which make me wonder if he actually knew about iPods when he wrote the book, or even more intriguingly, somehow sensed they were coming, that the logic of music in the digital era dictated that a device like that would come into existence.

Well what do you know, Apple, or their ad agency, appear to have read W & M, whose subtitle, lest we forget, is A History Of Pop In The Shape Of A City.

posted by Simon http://blissout.blogspot.com

See also: music journalism - pop music - city

2006, June 06; 19:05 ::: Can't Stop Won't Stop : A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (2005) - Jeff Chang

Can't Stop Won't Stop : A History of the Hip-Hop Generation (2005) - Jeff Chang [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Hip-hop is the voice of this generation. Even if you didn't grow up in the Bronx in the '70s, hip-hop is there for you. It has become a powerful force. Hip-hop binds all of these people, all of these nationalities, all over the world together."
—DJ Kool Herc, from the Introduction

Forged in the fires of the Bronx and Kingston, Jamaica, hip-hop became the Esperanto of youth rebellion and a generation-defining movement. In a post-civil rights era defined by deindustrialization and globalization, hip-hop crystallized a multiracial, polycultural generation's worldview, and transformed American politics and culture. But that epic story has never been told like this. From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the hip-hop activists, Can't Stop Won't Stop presents the hip-hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit, and style.

Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip-hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks, including DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Chuck D, and Ice Cube, Can't Stop Won't Stop chronicles the events, the ideas, the music, and the art that marked the hip-hop generation's rise from the ashes of the 60s into the new millennium. Here is a powerful cultural and social history of the end of the American century, and a provocative look into the new world that the hip-hop generation created. --http://www.cantstopwontstop.com/book.cfm [Jun 2006]

See also: rap - DJ Kool Herc

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Residents want rid of Dignitas 'house of horrors'

Alexandra Williams in Zurich
(Filed: 04/06/2006)

Residents who share a block of flats with Dignitas, the controversial assisted suicide charity, have launched a campaign to evict the organisation from the buiding.

In eight years, more than 450 people have killed themselves with barbiturates in a fourth-floor apartment in Zurich, owned by the Swiss charity. The bodies are put in a zipper bag and transported in the three-person lift, or carried downstairs.

Traumatised by the experience of passing living people going up in the lift, only to come across them hours later descending in a body bag, some residents want to move out of the block.

"We call it the 'House of Horrors'," said Gloria Sonny, 53, who has lived there for six years. "This is meant to be a residential flat but some days you'd think it was a morgue." For many residents, the worst part is passing people on their way up to the "death flat". Miss Sonny said: "The look in their eyes haunts me, particularly if they are young." --http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news [Jun 2006]

See also: http://www.dignitas.ch/

See also: suicide

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Cultural objectivism

Cultural pessimism holds that the best works of art have been produced in the past and the artistic output of the present is of inferior quality. It runs similar to the argument that today's youth is less moral than yesterday's youth. Cultural pessimism scorns new media and new developments in art and culture. It has a long tradition. Considering myself a cultural optimist or cultural objectivist, I hold that every era yields equal amounts of creativity and quality culture.

The exception to this rule is times of hardship such as war and famine in which less culture is produced. Creativity is a basic human need. This view is consistent with Maslow's hierarchy of needs: creativity belongs in self-actualization, the highest level of the hierarchy of needs. [Jun 2006]

See also: human needs - cultural pessimism - cultural optimism

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Art (1914) - Clive Bell

Art (1914) - Clive Bell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Arthur Clive Howard Bell (September 16, 1881 – September 18, 1964) was an English critic, associated with the Bloomsbury group.

Key ideas, career
Bell was one of the founders of the formalist theory of art. In his work Art he claimed that representation and emotion in themselves do not contribute to the aesthetic experience of a painting. Instead it is the significant form within the painting which determines its artistic content.

He defines Significant Form for painting as "relations and combinations of lines and colours" and considered it to be common to all works of visual art. He went on to use significant form as a definition of all art. His theory relies on treating "aesthetic experience" as an emotion distinct from other emotions, and one that is triggered by significant form - the common quality of any work of art. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Bell

See also: authorial intentionality - form - 1914 - art theory - High Modernism - art theory

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: The Dehumanization of art (1925) - Jose Ortega Y Gasset

The Dehumanization of art (1925) - Jose Ortega Y Gasset [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

La deshumanización del Arte e Ideas sobre la novela (The Dehumanization of art and Ideas about the Novel, 1925) is an essay by José Ortega y Gasset which argues against the importance of biographical details of an author and defends the text as text. Quite literally, the essay tries to take the human interest factor out of the artistic process, much like Clive Bell had previously done in Art (1914) and Barthes later did in Death of the Author (1968). [Jun 2006]

“to dehumanize art … to avoid living forms … to consider art as play and nothing else … to be essentially ironical … to regard art as a thing of no transcending consequence.”

Though The Dehumanization of Art was perfectly positioned to be the darling of the intellectuals—it was a university press paperback, it was by an author of a foreign name that Bobby Kennedy couldn’t pronounce, it was cheap, and it was short—I bought it because I assumed it would be a defense of art and an attack upon dehumanization. Why else would anyone have written a book called The Dehumanization of Art?

But I was shocked to discover that it was a spirited endorsement of the principles that I had expected it to condemn. In fact, it was in some ways the Gettysburg Address of Modernism: as an erudite and magnanimous capitulation of the old to the young, it seemed to the generation of 1968 to have been both wise and noble. --Against the dehumanization of art by Mark Helprin via http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/13/sept94/helprin.htm [Jun 2006]

See also: 1925 - authorial intentionality - José Ortega y Gasset - High Modernism - human - art

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: New Media, 1740-1915 (2003) - Lisa Gitelman

New Media, 1740-1915 (2003) - Lisa Gitelman [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
Reminding us that all media were once new, this book challenges the notion that to study new media is to study exclusively today's new media. Examining a variety of media in their historic contexts, it explores those moments of transition when new media were not yet fully defined and their significance was still in flux. Examples range from familiar devices such as the telephone and phonograph to unfamiliar curiosities such as the physiognotrace and the zograscope. Moving beyond the story of technological innovation, the book considers emergent media as sites of ongoing cultural exchange. It considers how habits and structures of communication can frame a collective sense of public and private and how they inform our apprehensions of the "real." By recovering different (and past) senses of media in transition, New Media, 1740-1915 promises to deepen our historical understanding of all media and thus to sharpen our critical awareness of how they acquire their meaning and power.

About the Author
Lisa Gitelman is Associate Professor and Director, Program in Media Studies, at Catholic University, Washington, D.C. She is the coeditor (with Geoffrey B. Pingree) of New Media, 1740-1915 (MIT Press, 2003) and the author of Scripts, Grooves, and Writing Machines. Geoffrey B. Pingree is Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies and English at Oberlin College.

See also: new media - dead media

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Spectacular Realities : Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris (1998) - Vanessa R. Schwartz

Spectacular Realities : Early Mass Culture in Fin-de-Siècle Paris (1998) - Vanessa R. Schwartz [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Paris emerged as the entertainment capital of the world. The sparkling redesigned city fostered a culture of energetic crowd-pleasing and multi-sensory amusements that would apprehend and represent real life as spectacle.

Vanessa R. Schwartz examines the explosive popularity of such phenomena as the boulevards, the mass press, public displays of corpses at the morgue, wax museums, panoramas, and early film. Drawing on a wide range of written and visual materials, including private and business archives, and working at the intersections of art history, literature, and cinema studies, Schwartz argues that "spectacular realities" are part of the foundation of modern mass society. She refutes the notion that modern life produced an unending parade of distractions leading to alienation, and instead suggests that crowds gathered not as dislocated spectators but as members of a new kind of crowd, one united in pleasure rather than protest.

See also: mass culture - spectacle - Paris - entertainment - fin de siècle - mass society

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Tomorrow's Eve (1886) - Auguste Villiers De L'Isle-Adam

Tomorrow's Eve (1886) - Auguste Villiers De L'Isle-Adam [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In 1879, Comte de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam wrote the book "L'Ève Future" (translated into English as "Tomorrow's Eve"), about a fictional Thomas Edison who creates the ideal (artificial) woman.

The term android was first used by the French author Mathias Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (1838-1889) in his work Tomorrow's Eve, featuring an artificial human-like robot named Hadaly. As said by the officer in the story, "In this age of Realien advancement, who knows what goes on in the mind of those responsible for these mechanical dolls."

Inspired by http://betweenblankandboring.blogspot.com

See also: robots - 1886 - science fiction - Decadence (cultural movement) - les poètes maudits - fantastic literature - Symbolist literature

2006, June 05; 19:05 ::: Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts (2002) - Peter Sedgewick

Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts (2002) - Peter Sedgewick [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This comprehensive volume allows students to quickly and accurately come to grips with the key terms encountered in cultural theory today. In more than 350 clear and succinct entries, Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts provides an up-to-date and authoritative introduction to the essential terms, theories and major concerns of this complex field. It covers topics such as: Deconstruction , Epistemology, Feminism, Hermeneutics, Holism, Methodology, Postmodernism, Semiotics, Sociobiology and many more.

In addition to the suggestions for further reading which accompany all major entries, this work also features a useful bibliography of essential texts in cultural theory. --from the publisher

See also: culture theory - Routledge

2006, June 04; 19:05 ::: Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illuminations : 1558-Present (1989) - Bob Black, Adam Parfrey (Editors)

Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illuminations : 1558-Present (1989) - Bob Black, Adam Parfrey (Editors) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

  • from The Monstrous Regiment of Women ( 1558 ) - John Knox
  • from The Pleasure-Loving Modern Woman ( 1633 ) - William Prynne
  • from A Fiery Flying Roll ( 1650 ) - Abiezer Coppe
  • Pirate Rant ( 1670s ) - Captain Bellamy
  • A Fair Dream and a Rude Awakening ( 1790 ) - Jean Paul Marat
  • from Philosophy in the Bedroom ( 1795 ) - Marquis de Sade
  • King Steam ( 1812 ) - anonymous Luddite
  • from Harrah! ou la Revolution par les Cosaques ( early 1800s ) - Couerderoy
  • A Sentimental Bankruptcy ( 1829 ) - Charles Fourier
  • from The Ego and Its Own ( 1844 ) - Max Stirner
  • from Murder ( 1849 ) - Karl Heinzen
  • from No Treason ( 1867 ) - Lysander Spooner
  • The Revolutionary's Catechism ( 1869 ) - Sergei Necheyev
  • Dynamite! ( 1870s ) - T. Lizius
  • Speech of the condemned ( 1880 ) - Louis Lingg
  • Speech to Missionaries ( 1880s ) - Red Jacket, Seneca leader
  • An exchange ( 1880s ) - Judge Roy Bean & Judged Beaner
  • Voters Strike! ( 1888 ) - Octave Mirbeau
  • from Might is Right ( 1896 ) - Ragnar Redbeard
  • from Degeneration ( 1908 ) - Max Nordau
  • Manifesto of Lust ( 1913 ) - Valentine de Saint-Point
  • Anarcho-Futurist Manifesto ( 1917 ) - A. L. and V. L. Gordin
  • Iconoclasts, Forward! ( 1920 ) - Renzo Novatore
  • Literature and the Rest ( 1920 ) - Philippe Soupault
  • from The Anathema of Zos ( 1924 ) - Austin Osman Spare
  • General Security: The Liquidation of Opium ( 1925 ) - Antonin Artaud
  • I Wish You All Had One Neck ( 1929 ) - Carl Panzram
  • from The Eternal Youth ( 1930s ) - Ralph Chubb
  • from Bagatelles por un Massacre ( 1937 ) - Louis-Ferdinand Céline
  • from Darkness ( 1942 ) - Ezra Pound
  • The Poets' Dishonor ( 1945 ) - Benjamin Peret
  • from Listen, Little Man ( 1945 ) - Wilhelm Reich
  • Formulary for a New Urbanism ( 1953 ) - Ivan Chtcheglov
  • Concerning New Year 1963 ( 1963 ) - Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
  • Ball of the Freaks ( 1960s ) - Anon.
  • There is a Great Deal to be Silent About ( 1967 ) - Emmett Grogan
  • from SCUM Manifesto ( 1968 ) - Valerie Solanas
  • Plea for Courage ( 1970 ) - Mel Lyman
  • P. O. W. Statement ( 1971 ) - Timothy Leary
  • On Fear ( 1971 ) - The Process Church
  • Occupy the Brain! ( 1970s ) - Carsten Regild & Rolf Börjlind
  • from Never Again! ( 1971 ) - Rabbi Meir Kahane
  • Situationist Liberation Front ( mid 1970s ) - Situationist International
  • from The Invisibles ( 1976 ) - Thibaut D'Amiens
  • Misanthropia ( 1977 ) - Anton Szandor La Vey
  • The Anthropolitical Motivations ( 1979 ) - Stanislav Szukalski
  • The Correct Line ( 1981 ) - Bob Black
  • Investment in Survival ( 1982 ) - Kurt Saxon
  • The Roots of Modern Terror ( 1983 ) - Gerry Reith
  • from Meese Commission Report on Pornography ( 1983 ) - Park Elliott Dietz, M. D.
  • Reward of the Tender Flesh ( 1985 ) - Ed Lawrence
  • The Nine Secrets of Mind Poisoning at a Distance ( 1984 ) - Kerry Wendell Thornley
  • L'Revolucion Pour Neant ( 1985 ) - Pascal Uni
  • Sammy Prole Gets Tough ( 1986 ) - John Crawford
  • Population and AIDS ( 1987 ) - Miss Ann Thropy (Earth First!)
  • Out of the Magic of Venom: Creation ( 1988 ) - Kathy Acker
  • Intellectual S & M is the Fascism of the 80s ( 1988 ) - Hakim Bey

The list follows Rants and Incendiary Tracts: Voices of Desperate Illumination 1558-Present, a book edited by Bob Black and Adam Parfrey. It is an anthology of 56 rants.

It was co-published, as a 240 page paperback, by Amok Press and Loompanics Unlimited in 1989 (ISBN 0941693031). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rants_and_Incendiary_Tracts [Jun 2006]

Similar to An Anthology Of Invective And Abuse (1929) by Hugh Kingsmill. First published as two volumes in 1929-30, and then as a combined edition in 1944 (Eyre and Spottiswoode). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Kingsmill [Jun 2006]

See also: pamphlets - Adam Parfrey - 1989

2006, June 04; 19:05 ::: The Ego and its Own (1844) - Max Stirner

In search of the roots of anarchism.

The Ego and its Own (1844) - Max Stirner [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Stirner's The Ego and its Own (1844) is striking in both style and content, attacking Feuerbach, Moses Hess and others to sound the death-knell of Left Hegelianism. The work also constitutes an enduring critique of liberalism and socialism from the perspective of an extreme eccentric individualism. Stirner has latterly been portrayed variously as a precursor of Nietzsche, a forerunner of existentialism, an individualist anarchist, and as manifestly insane. This edition includes an Introduction placing Stirner in his historical context.

Johann Kaspar Schmidt (October 25, 1806 – June 26, 1856), better known as Max Stirner (the nom de plume he adopted from a schoolyard nickname he had acquired as a child because of his high brow [Stirn]), German philosopher, who ranks as one of the literary grandfathers of nihilism, existentialism and anarchism, especially of individualist anarchism. Stirner himself explicitly denied holding any absolute position in his philosophy, further stating that if he must be identified with some "-ism" let it be egoism — the antithesis of all ideologies and social causes, as he conceived of it.

Stirner's main work is The Ego and Its Own, also known as The Ego and His Own (Der Einzige und sein Eigentum in German), which was first published in Leipzig, 1844, and has since appeared in numerous editions and translations. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Stirner [Jun 2006]

Influence on Duchamp
Politically, Marcel Duchamp opposed World War I and identified with Individualist Anarchism, in particular with Max Stirner's philosophical tract The Ego and Its Own, the study of which Duchamp considered the turning point in his artistic and intellectual development. [Jun 2006]

See also: 1844 - 1840s - ego - German philosophy - anarchism

2006, June 04; 19:05 ::: Music Hall: The Business of Pleasure (1986) - Peter Bailey (Editor)

In search of the roots of the culture industry.

Music Hall: The Business of Pleasure (1986) - Peter Bailey (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

See also: popular music - music halls - culture industry - business - pleasure

2006, June 02; 19:05 ::: Aurelia (1855) - Gerard De Nerval

In search of fantastic literature.

Aurelia (1855) - Gerard De Nerval [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Book Description Aurélia is a document of dreams, obsession, and insanity. An account of Nerval’s unrequited passion for an actress and subsequent descent into madness, this book was a favorite of artist Joseph Cornell’s, and its author was championed by both Marcel Proust and André Breton. One of the original self-styled "bohemians," Nerval was best known in his own day for parading a lobster on a pale blue ribbon through the gardens of the Palais-Royal, and for his suicide in 1855, hanging from an apron string he called the garter of the Queen of Sheba. Geoffrey Wagner’s translation of Aurélia was first published by Grove Press in 1959, but has remained out of print for nearly twenty years. Included are previously untranslated stories, and poet Robert Duncan’s version of the sonnet cycle "Chimeras"— making this the most complete collection of Nerval ever published in English. --via Amazon.co.uk

"Nerval possessed to a tee the spirit with which we claim a kinship." — André Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism

"Each time I re-read Aurélia, a new shock of certainty in the pit of my stomach opens the eye to my heart: so I was observed! I was not alone in this world!" — René Daumal

Gérard de Nerval (May 22, 1808 – January 26, 1855) was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, the most essentially Romantic among French poets.

Aurélie (1855), Gérard de Nerval's fantasy-ridden interior autobiography— "Our dreams are a second life," he wrote— which influenced the Surrealists.

The influence of de Nerval's insistence on the significance of dreams on the Surrealist movement was fully emphasised by André Breton. The writers Marcel Proust and René Daumal were also greatly influenced by de Nerval's work, as was Artaud. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A9rard_de_Nerval [Jun 2006]

See also: fantastic literature - 1800s literature - 1855 - French literature

2006, June 02; 19:05 ::: Making the News: Modernity and the Mass Press in Nineteenth-Century France (1999) - Dean de La Motte, Jeannene M Przyblyski

In search of "penny press" history.

Making the News: Modernity and the Mass Press in Nineteenth-Century France (1999) - Dean de La Motte, Jeannene M Przyblyski [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Back Cover
Much recent writing on print culture has focused on the social and political implications of the transition from "elite" to "mass" culture in the 1800s. The essays in this volume add significantly to our understanding of the role of the nineteenth-century French press in producing the commodities, consumers, and ideological frameworks that are the hallmarks of this shift. The book also offers an opportunity for useful comparisons with recent scholarship on the rise of the popular press in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany.

The essays address a wide range of topics, from the emergence of commercial daily newspapers during the July Monarchy to the photographic representation of women in the Paris Commune. Together they demonstrate that the French mass press was far more heterogeneous than previously supposed, tapping into an expanding readership composed of a variety of publics -- from affluent bourgeois to disaffected workers to disenfranchised women. It was also relentlessly innovative, using caricature, argot, advertisements, and other attention-grabbing techniques that blurred the lines separating art, politics, and the news.

See also: 1800s literature - newspaper - French literature

2006, June 03; 19:05 ::: What is Property? (1840) - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

What is Property? (1840) - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government (original French: Qu'est-ce que la propriété? ou Recherche sur le principe du Droit et du Gouvernment) is the title of a book by the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1840. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Is_Property%3F [Jun 2006]

Property is theft (French: La propriété, c'est le vol!) is a slogan coined by the French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in his book What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right of Government. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_is_theft%21 [Jun 2006]

See also: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon - 1840s - anarchism

2006, June 02; 19:05 ::: Fear and Trembling (1843) - Søren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling (1843) - Søren Kierkegaard [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Fear and Trembling (original Danish title: Frygt og Bæven) is a philosophical work by Søren Kierkegaard, published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio. The title is apparently a reference to Philippians 2:12: "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

The work begins with a meditation on the faith of Abraham when he was commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, as told in Genesis chapter 22. Then follow the "Problemata", which address three specific philosophical questions raised by the story of Abraham's sacrifice:

  1. Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical? (That is, can Abraham's intent to sacrifice Isaac be considered "good" even though, ethically, human sacrifice is unacceptable?)
  2. Is there an absolute duty to God?
  3. Was it ethically defensible for Abraham to have concealed his purpose from Sarah, Eleazar, and Isaac?

In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard introduces the "knight of faith" and contrasts him with the "knight of infinite resignation". The latter gives up everything for a great cause and continuously dwells with the pain of his loss.

The former, however, not only relinquishes everything, but also trusts that he will receive it all back, his trust based on the "strength of the absurd". For Kierkegaard (or at least Johannes de Silentio), infinite resignation is easy, but faith is founded in the belief of the absurd. For Abraham, this faith in the absurd was found in Abraham's belief that God would not let the sacrifice of Isaac happen or that Isaac would be brought back from the dead. Kierkegaard's opinion is that what separates Abraham from being a killer is his faith. (In the end of the Genesis 22 story, God stops Abraham at the last moment. A ram appears which Abraham takes as a sign from God, and he sacrifices the ram instead of Isaac.) --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_and_Trembling [Jun 2006]

See also: 1843 - fear - Søren Kierkegaard

2006, June 02; 19:05 ::: Selections from the Prison Notebooks () - Antonio Gramsci

Selections from the Prison Notebooks () - Antonio Gramsci [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

On November 9, 1926 the Fascist government enacted a new wave of emergency laws, taking as a pretext an alleged attempt on Mussolini's life that had occurred several days earlier. The fascist police arrested Gramsci, despite his parliamentary immunity, and brought him to Regina Coeli, the famous Roman prison. At his trial, Gramsci's prosecutor famously stated, "For twenty years we must stop this brain from functioning"[1]. He received an immediate sentence of 5 years in confinement (on the remote island of Ustica); the following year he received a sentence of 20 years of prison (in Turi, near Bari). His condition caused him to suffer from constantly declining health, and he received an individual cell and little assistance. In 1932, a project for exchanging political prisoners (including Gramsci) between Italy and the Soviet Union failed. In 1934 his health deteriorated severely and he gained conditional freedom, after having already visited some hospitals in Civitavecchia, Formia and Rome. He died in Rome at the age of 46, shortly after being released from prison; he is buried in the so-called Protestant Cemetery there.

Gramsci wrote more than 30 notebooks and 3000 pages of history and analysis during his imprisonment. These writings, known as the Prison Notebooks, contain Gramsci's tracing of Italian history and nationalism, as well as some ideas in Marxist theory, critical theory and educational theory associated with his name, such as:

  • Cultural hegemony as a means of maintaining the capitalist state.
  • The need for popular workers' education to encourage development of intellectuals from the working class.
--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci#Imprisonment [Jun 2006]

See also: prison - Antonio Gramsci

2006, June 02; 19:05 ::: Freudo-Marxism

In search of the roots of postmodern philosophy

"Postmodernism" as a philosophical movement is not just Nietzsche rehashed; it grew out of the staged confrontations and collaborations of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud undertaken by French (mostly) intellectuals in the twentieth century. Boiling it down to Nietzsche is inaccurate (as would be boiling it down to the three of these thinkers). --csloat 01:36, 3 June 2006 (UTC)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Postmodernism#Nietzsche [Jun 2006]

Freudo-Marxism is a loose designation of several twentieth-century critical theory schools of thought that sought to synthesize the philosophy and political economy of Karl Marx with the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud.

While the movement to integrate socialist and psychoanalytic theory has taken several forms, each arose during the middle of the twentieth century in the hope of answering this question: why did Fascism have mass appeal? The fact of that appeal confounded much of orthodox Marxist thought. The gist of the answer Freudo-Marxists gave to that question is that the masses have internalized their oppression as suppression. The internalization of the upper class in the minds of the lower class is the super-ego, in the same way that crowd psychology, in particular Freud, considered the leader to work as the masses' super-ego. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freudo-Marxism [Jun 2006]

On 1960-05-31, Norman O. Brown lectured at Columbia University about “Apocalypse: The Place of Mystery in the Life of the Mind.” He said that mind, understood as rationality, was "at the end of its tether," (a phrase he adapted from H.G. Wells) and that the way out was also the way down, into madness and its esoteric wisdom. This was a key moment in the infusion of Freudianism into left-wing thought, by the identification of political oppression with psychological suppression.

Herbert Marcuse had written Eros and Civilization in 1955, which explicitly sought to merge Marxism with Freudianism, so that bourgeois rationality was wrong not just qua its bourgeois class origin but qua rationality as well. Marcuse, though, didn't become a force to be reckoned with in the English-speaking world until 1964, with the publication of One Dimensional Man, a popularization of much the same message. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_socialism#The_radicalization_of_psychoanalysis [Jun 2006]

See also: postmodern philosophy - Nietzsche - Freud - Marx - Norman Brown - Herbert Marcuse

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