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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Mon Sep 01, 2014 5:20 pm

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At the Beginning of the first sentence of the European tradition, in the first verse of the Iliad, the word "rage" occurs. It appears fatally and solemnly, like a plea, a plea that does not allow for any disagreement. As is fitting for a well-formed propositional object, this noun is in the accusative: "Of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus, sing Goddess...."

That it appears at the very beginning loudly and unequivocally announces its heightened pathos. Which kind of relationship to rage is proposed to the listeners in this magical prelude to this heroic song? How does the singer want to bring to language rage? How does he intend to address the particular kind of rage with which everything began in the old Western world? Will he depict it as a form of violence, a violence that will entrap peaceful human beings in atrocious events? Should one attenuate, curb, and repress this most horrible and most human of affects? Should one quickly avoid it as often as it announces itself, in others or in oneself? Should one always sacrifice it to the neutralized better insight?

These are, as one quickly realizes, contemporary questions. They lead far away from the subject matter, the rage of Achilles. The Old World had discovered its own pathways to rage, which can no longer be those of the moderns. Where the moderns consult a therapist or dial the number of the police, those who were knowers back then appealed to the divine world. Homer calls to the goddess in order to let the first word of Europe be heard. He does so in accordance with an old rhapsodic custom: the insight that he who intends something immodest had better start very modestly. Not I, but Homer can secure the success of my song. To sing has meant from time immemorial to open one's mouth so that the higher powers can make themselves heard. If my song is successful and gains authority, the muses will be responsible for it, and beyond the muses perhaps a god, or the goddess herself.
If the song disappears without being heard, it means the higher powers were not interested in it. In Homer's case, the divine judgment was clear:

In the beginning there was the word "rage," and the word was successful:

Menin aiede, thea, Peleiadeo Achileos
Oulomenen, he myriAchaiois alge eteke...

Of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus, sing Goddess that murderous rage which condemned Achaeans to countless agonies and threw many warrior souls deep into Hades...

The verses of appeal in the Iliad unequivocally prescribe the way in which the Greeks, the paradigm people of Western civilization, are supposed to confront the entry of rage into the life of mortals: with the kind of amazement that is appropriate for an apparition. The first plea of our cultural tradition—is this "our" still valid?—asks the divine world to support the song of the rage of a unique fighter. What is remarkable is that the singer does not aim for any extenuation. Starting with the first lines, he emphasizes the baleful force of heroic rage: wherever it manifests itself, it unleashes its power on all sides. The Greeks themselves have to suffer even more from it than the Trojans. Already in the very beginning of the unraveling war, Achilles' rage turns against his own people. It is enlisted on the Greek front again only shortly before the decisive battle. The tone of the first verses sets up the program: in contradistinction to their general presentation as mere ghostly shadows, the souls of the beaten heroes, which are mentioned extensively here, descend into Hades. In Hades their lifeless bodies—Homer refers to these bodies as "they"—are devoured by birds and dogs under the open sky.

The voice of the singer passes over the horizon of existence from which he can report such things. It is a euphoric and balanced voice. To be Greek and to listen to this voice mean the same thing in classical antiquity. Whenever one hears it, one immediately knows that war and peace are names for the phases of a life in which the ultimate significance of death is never in question. Death meets the hero early. This, too, belongs to the messages of the hero's song. If the expression "glorification of violence" ever had a meaning, it would be fitting for this entry into the oldest record of European culture. However, this expression would mean almost the opposite of what is implied by its contemporary, inevitably disapproving usage. To sing of rage means to make rage noteworthy, to make it worthy of being thought (denkwurdig). However, what is noteworthy is in proximity to what is impressive and permanently praiseworthy—we could almost say: it is close to the Good. These valuations are so thoroughly opposed to modern ways of thinking and feeling that one probably has to admit that an authentic access to the intimate meaning of the Homeric understanding of rage will remain closed off to us.

Only indirect approximations will help us move further. At least we understand that what we are dealing with is not the holy rage of which biblical sources speak. Nor are we confronted with the outrage of the prophet in the face of atrocities against the gods. It is not the rage of Moses, who smashes the tablets while the people bask in front of the golden calf. Nor is it the languishing hatred of the psalmist who cannot wait for the day when the just one will bathe his feet in the blood of the sinners (Psalms 58:10-11).

The rage of Achilles also has little in common with the anger of Yahweh, the early and yet rather unsublime God of thunder and deserts, the one who leads the people through their exodus as the "God that bristles with anger" and destroys their persecutors in thunderstorms and floods. However, neither are we confronted by profane fits of human rage, which the later Sophists and philosophical teachers of morals have in mind when they preach the ideal of self-restraint.

The truth is that Homer moves within a world that is characterized by an appreciation of war without limitations. However dark the horizon of this universe of battles and deaths might be, the basic tone of the presentation is determined by the pride of being allowed to be a witness to such spectacles and such fates. The illuminating visibility of these spectacles and fates reconciles with the harshness of reality. This is what Nietzsche referred to as "Apollonian."

No modern human being can put himself back into a time where the concepts of war and happiness formed a meaningful constellation. For the first listeners of Homer, however, war and happiness are inseparable. The bond between them is founded upon the ancient cult of heroes. We moderns know this cult only within the square brackets of historical education.

For the ancients this heroism was no subtle attitude but the most vital of all possible responses to the facts of life. A world without heroes would have been worth nothing in their view. Such a world would have meant a state in which human beings would have been exposed to the monarchy of nature without any resistance. In such a world, physis would cause everything while human beings would not be capable of anything. The hero, however, is living proof that acts and deeds are also to be done by human beings as long as divine favor allows for them. The early heroes are celebrated solely as doers of deeds and achievers of acts. Their deeds testify to what is most valuable. They testify to what mortals, then and now, are able to experience: that a clearing of impotence and indifference has been brushed into the bush of natural condition. In accounts of actions, the first happy message that shines through is: there is more happening under the sun than what one is indifferent to and what always remains the same. Because true actions have been done the accounts of them answer the question, "Why do human beings do something at all rather than nothing?" Human beings do something so that the world will be expanded through something new and worthy of being praised. Because those that accomplished the new were representatives of humankind, even if extraordinary ones, for the rest as well an access to pride and amazement opens up when they hear about the deeds and sufferings of the heroes.

The new, however, may not appear in the form of the news of the day. In order to be legitimate, it has to disguise itself as the prototypical, oldest, and eternally recurring. It also needs to invoke the long anticipated approval of the gods. If the new presents itself in the form of prehistoric events, myth comes into existence. The epic is the more flexible, broader, and more solemn form of myth, a form that is fitting for presentation in castles, on village squares, and in front of early city audiences.

The demand for the hero is the precondition for everything that follows. Only because the terrifying rage of heroes is indispensable may the singer turn to the goddess in order to engage her for twenty-four songs. If this rage, which the goddess is supposed to help to sing to, were not itself of a higher nature, the thought to appeal to it would already be an act of blasphemy. Only because there is a form of rage that is granted from above is it legitimate to involve the gods in the fierce affairs of human beings. Who sings under such premises about rage celebrates a force that frees human beings from vegetative numbness. This force elevates human beings, who are covered by a high, watchful sky. The inhabitants of the earth draw breath since they can imagine that the gods are viewers, taking delight in the mundane comedy.

Understanding these circumstances, which have become distant to us, can be simplified by indicating that according to the conception of the ancients the hero and his singer correspond with each other in an authentic religious bond. Religiosity is human beings' agreement with their nature as mediums. It is generally known that mediate talents travel separate paths.

These ways can, however, intersect at important junctures. "Media" pluralism is thus a fact that reaches back to early conditions of culture. However, at these early times media were not technical instruments but human beings themselves, including their organic and spiritual potential. Just as the singer could be the mouthpiece of a singing force, the hero feels himself the arm of rage, the rage that achieved the noteworthy actions. The larynx of the one and the arm of the other together form a hybrid body. The arm to hold the sword belongs more to the god than to the fighter himself. The god influences the human world through the detour of secondary causes. Of course, the arm to hold the sword also belongs to the singer, to whom the hero, and all his weapons, owe the immortal fame. Hence the connection of godhero-singer constitutes the first effective media network. In the thousand years after Homer, Achilles is a topic in the Mediterranean time and again. People address Achilles' usefulness for the war-loving muses. It is not necessary to dwell on the fact that nowadays no one is able to think authentically, perhaps with the exception of some inhabitants of the esoteric highlands where the reenchantment of the world has further progressed.

We have not only stopped to judge and feel like the peoples of old, we secretly despise them for remaining "children of their time." We despise them for remaining captivated by a form of heroism that we can only experience as archaic and unfitting. What could one object to Homer from the vantage point of the present and the conventions of the lowlands? Should one accuse him of violating human rights by conceiving individuals all too directly as media of higher commanding beings? Should one accuse him of disregarding the integrity of victims by celebrating the forces that caused them harm? Or should one accuse him of neutralizing the arbitrary violence of war, of transforming its results immediately into divine judgments? Or would one have to soften the allegation to claim that the god has become a victim of impatience. Would we have to claim that he did not possess the patience to wait until the Sermon on the Mount and that he did not read Seneca's De ira, the exposition of the stoic control of affects, which served as a model for Christian and humanistic ethics?

Within Homer's horizon there is, of course, no point where objections of this kind could successfully gain hold. The song concerning the heroic energy of a warrior, with which the epos of the ancients starts out, elevates rage to the rank of a substance, out of which the world is formed. This requires that we admit that "world" delineates the circle of shapes and scenes of the ancient, Hellenic life of aristocratic warriors during the first millennium before the Christian calendar. One is inclined to think that such a worldview has become obsolete since, at the latest, the time of the Enlightenment. However, to fully reject this image characterized by the priority of struggle will probably be harder for the contemporary realist than the current widespread feeling of pacifism wants to make us believe. Moderns did not fully neglect the task of thinking war. Indeed, this task has for a long time been associated with the male order of cultivation. Students of antiquity have already been measured against the standard of thinking war. This was the case when the upper class of Rome, together with the other Greek models of culture, imported the epic bellicosity of their teachers. The Roman upper class did not at all forget its own rooted militarism. Similarly, since the Renaissance, generation after generation of the youth of Europe learned about this militarism after the exemplary character of the Greeks had again been set up as a guide in the educational system of the newly formed national states.

This had far-reaching consequences. Could it be possible that the so-called world wars of the twentieth century also represented, among other things, repetitions of the Trojan War? They were organized by a group of generals, and didn't the leading generals on both sides of the enemy lines understand themselves as virtually the most excellent of the ancients? Didn't these generals understand themselves as the descendents of the raging Achilles and as bearers of an athletic and patriotic vocation to gain victory and enjoy fame by posterity? The immortal hero dies countless times.

The question of whether Homer, just as after him Heraclitus and much later Hegel, believed that war is the father of all things remains open. It is also uncertain—and probably even unlikely—that Homer, the patriarch of the historiography of war and the teacher of Greek to countless generations, possessed a conception of "history" or "civilization." The only thing that is certain is that the universe of the Iliad is woven completely out of the deeds and sufferings of rage (menis), just as the somewhat younger Odyssey is an exercise in listing the deeds and sufferings of cunningness (metis). According to the ancient ontology, the world is the sum total of the battles that take place in it. Epic rage appears like a primary energy to its singer, a primary energy that swells by itself, undeducible, like the storm and the sunlight; it is an active force in quintessential shape. Because this energy can rightly claim the predicate first substance "from itself," it precedes all of its local provocations. The hero and his menis constitute for Homer an inseparable couple. According to this preestablished union, every deduction of rage from its external provocations becomes superfluous. Achilles is wrathful just as the North Pole is icy, Olympus is shrouded by clouds, and Mont Ventoux circled by roaring winds. Saying this does not deny that the occasion presents a stage for rage.

However, the role of these occasions is limited to literally "conjuring up" (hervorrufen) rage without changing its essence. As the force that holds the world together, rage preserves in its essence the unity of substance in the multitude of its eruptions. It exists before all of its manifestations and survives unchangingly its most intensive expenditures. When Achilles perches in his tent and rumbles, when he is hurt, almost paralyzed and angry with his people because the military leader, Agamemnon, has taken from him the beautiful slave, Briseis, a symbolically significant "present of honor," this does not halter his astonishingly raging nature. The capability to suffer from an affront is the mark of a great fighter. Such a fighter does not yet need the virtue of losers, to "let things be." For Achilles it is satisfactory to know that he is in the right and that Agamemnon owes something to him.  

This guilt is objective according to ancient Greek culture because the honor of the great fighter is itself more objective or of an authentic nature. If he who is first only in rank takes a reward from someone who is first by force, honor is violated at the highest level. The episode of rage shows the force of Achilles in preparatory standstill. Heroes, too, know times of indecision and times of anger, of being turned within oneself. But a sufficiently strong trigger is enough to ignite again the motor of rage, and the consequences are terrifying and yet fascinating enough to qualify for a record of fighting worthy of the title "destroyer of cities" and a battle record of twenty-three destroyed settlements.

The young favorite of Achilles, Patroclos, who had carelessly worn the armor of his friend on the battleground, was slain by Hector, the spearhead of the Trojans. Shortly after the news concerning this ominous event spreads around the Greek camp, Achilles leaves his tent. His rage has once again united itself with him and dictates from this point on—without indeterminacy—the direction of his actions. The hero demands a new armor, and the underworld rushes to fulfill his request. The rage that engulfs him does not limit itself to his body: it sparks across far-reaching network of actions that spans the mortal and immortal worlds. Merits takes on the role of an intensely aggressive mediator between immortals and mortals. It compels Hephaestus, the god of forging, to produce the finest of new weapons. It grants Thetis, the mother of the hero, wings in order to speedily transmit information between the forge of the underworld and the camp of the Greeks above. In the inner circle of its potency, menis prepares the fighter again against his fateful last enemy. It prepares him for the real presence of the fight. It leads him onto the battlefield, to the place determined by providence.
At this place rage will flare up highest and reach the highest degree of fulfilling release. In front of the walls of Troy the consummation of rage is the sign that is necessary to remind every witness of the convergence of explosion and truth.6 Only the fact that in the last instance it is not the rage of Achilles but the cunning of Odysseus that wins over the besieged city shows that in the fatal plain of Troy there already had to be a second means to success. Did Homer thus not see a future for pure rage?

Such a conclusion would be premature because the Homer of the Iliad uses every possible means to extend the dignity of rage. At the decisive moment he emphasizes how explosive the eruption of the wrathful force of Achilles really was. Its suddenness is particularly indispensable as verification of its higher origin. It is part of the virtue of the hero of early Greece to be ready to become a vessel for the abrupt flow of energy from the gods. Still, we find ourselves in a world whose spiritual constitution is clearly characterized by its mediate dimension. Just as the prophet is a medium in the name of the holy word of protest, the warrior becomes a tool for the force, which gathers in him abruptly in order to break through the world of appearances.

A secularization of affects is still unknown in this order of things. Secularization implies the execution of the program that is present in wellformed European propositions. Through them one imitates in the domain of the real what is provided by syntax: subjects act on objects and force their domination on them. It is unnecessary to state that Homer's world of actions remains far away from such circumstances. It is not the human beings who have their passions, but rather it is the passions that have their human beings. The accusative is still untamable. Given these circumstances, the one God remains of course absent. Theoretical monotheism can only gain power once the philosophers seriously postulate the propositional subject as the world principle. Then the subjects are supposed to have their passions as well. Then the subjects are allowed to postulate themselves as the masters and owners of these passions, which now can be controlled. Until then, spontaneous pluralism reigns, a pluralism in which subjects and objects constantly exchange place.

This blurring of subjects and objects shows that one needs to sing about rage in the moment when it is alive and active, when it comes over someone. It is only this that Homer has in mind when he relates the long siege of Troy and the fall of the city, which was almost given up, to the mysterious fighting force of the protagonist. Because of Achilles' rage the Greek course was condemned to failure. Homer uses the moment of truth in which menis flows into its bearer; epic memory then only needs to follow the course of events, which is determined by the high and low forces. It is decisive that the warrior himself, as soon as sublime rage begins to become effective, experiences a kind of numinous presence. Only because of this presence can the heroic rage be more than a profane fit when applied to its most gifted tool.

To state it with more pathos: through the surge of rage the god of the battlefield speaks to the fighter. One understands right away why we rarely hear two voices in such moments. Forces of this kind are monothematic, at least at the time of their naive beginnings. They are monothematic because they take hold of the whole man and demand that their one affect occupy the entire stage. In the case of pure rage there is no complex inner life, no hidden psychic world, no private secret through which the hero would become understandable to other human beings. Rather, the basic principle is that the inner life of the actor should become wholly manifest and wholly public.
It should become wholly deed and, if possible, wholly song. It is typical of the surging rage that it fully becomes one with its own lavish expression. Under the domination of total expressivity, it is impossible to hold oneself back or worry over self-preservation. Of course there is always "something" for which the fighting takes place. Mainly, however, the struggle serves the goal of revelation: it reveals the fighting energy as such. Strategy, the goal of war, and the rewards surface only later.

Wherever rage flames up we are dealing with the complete warrior. As the burning hero enters fully into the fight, the identification of the human being with his driving forces realizes itself. Common people can only dream of this in their best moments. They, too, as far as they are used to postponing things and having to wait, have not completely lost the memory of those moments of their lives in which the elan of acting seemed to flow directly out of the circumstances. To use a phrase of Robert Musil, we could call this becoming one with the pure driving force, the Utopia of a life based on motivation.

For people who settle down, such as farmers, craftsmen, day laborers, writers, civil servants, and for later therapists and professors, the virtues of hesitations have become authoritative. He who sits on the bench of virtues usually cannot know what his next task might be. He has to receive council from different perspectives and has to make his decisions based on interpretations of the murmur in which no tenor embodies the main voice. For everyday people the evidence of the moment remains out of reach; at best, the crutches of habit will help them. Habit provides solid surrogates of security, which may be stable but do not allow for the living presence of conviction. He who is driven by rage, however, is past the anemic time. Fog arises, yet shapes become more determinate. Now clear lines lead to the object. The enraged attack knows where it wants to hit. The person who is enraged in the highest form "enters the world like the bullet enters the battle."


The Thymotic World: Pride and War

It is because of the ingenious reading of Homer by the classical philologist Bruno Snell that contemporary reinterpreters of the Iliad have become aware of the specific premodern structure of its epic psychology and plot. In the main chapter of his inspiring book The Discovery of Spirit, which deals with Homer's conception of the human being, he elucidates an important feature of the text: that the epic characters of the oldest epoch of Western writing still lack, to a large degree, the formative characteristics of the classical conception of subjectivity. In particular, they lack reflective inwardness, intimate conversations with themselves, and the ability to make conscientious attempts to control their affects.10 Snell discovers in Homer the latent conception of a "composite" or "container" personality, which resembles in some respects the image of the postmodern human being with his chronic "dissociative disorders." Seen from a distance, the early hero indeed puts one in mind of today's "multiple-personality" disorder.

For Homer there does not yet seem to be an inner hegemonic principle, a coherent "I" that is responsible for the unity and self-control of the psychic field. Rather the "person" turns out to be a meeting point of affects or partial energies. These energies introduce themselves into their host, the experiencing and acting individual, as visitors from afar. They have come in order to use their host for their own concerns.

The rage of the hero thus may not be understood as an inherent attribute of the structure of his personality. The successful warrior is more than just a character that is exceedingly irritable and aggressive. It does not make much sense to speak of Homeric figures the way school psychologists speak of problematic students. Otherwise Achilles would be presented too quickly as a delegate of extravagant parental ambitions. This would falsely portray him as the precursor of a psychologically deformed tennis prodigy, but because with Achilles we are still in the domain of this container psychology, one needs to pay special attention to the basic rule of this spiritual universe: rage, which blazes up in intervals, is an energetic supplement to the heroic psyche, not a mere personal trait or intimate feature. The Greek catchphrase for the "organ" in the chest of both heroes and regular human beings, the organ from which these great upsurges take their departure, is "thymos." Thymos signifies the impulsive center of the proud self, yet at the same time it also delineates the receptive "sense." Through this sense the commands of the gods reveal themselves to mortals. The supplementary or "joining" quality of impulses connected to thymos explains, by the way, the lack of any control over the affects of Homer's characters. This is particularly strange to us moderns. The hero is a kind of prophet and is assigned the task of actualizing instantaneously the message of his force. The hero accompanies his power in a way similar to how a genius is accompanied by his protege. When the force becomes actualized the protegee has no choice but to go along with it.

Even though the hero is not the master and owner of his affects, it would be a mistake to think that he is only its blind instrument, without any will of his own. Menis belongs to the group of invasive energies. The poetic as well as the philosophical psychology of the Hellenics included these energies and taught that they were to be considered gifts of grace from the divine world. Just as every gifted person is asked from above to carefully administer the gift that has been entrusted to him, the hero, the guardian of rage, also has to create a conscious relationship to this rage. Heidegger, who we can well imagine to be a thoughtful tourist on the planes of Troy, would probably say: fighting is also thanking.

After the transformation of the Greek psyche from extolling heroic militancy to extolling civic excellence, rage gradually disappears from the list of charismatic affects. Only the more spiritual forms of enthusiasm remain, as in Plato's Phaedrus, in which he presents an overview and list of psyche's beneficial obsessions, primarily medicine, the gift of prophesy, and the enthralled song that is granted by the muse. Beyond this, Plato also introduces the novel paradox of enthusiasm, the sober mania of viewing ideas.
These ideas are the central reference point of the new science Plato founded, that is, philosophy. Under the influence of this discipline, "manic" psyche, illuminated through logical exercises, once and for all distanced itself from its "menic" beginnings. The exorcism of great rage from culture began.

Since then, the rage of citizens is only a guest that one welcomes within a framework of strict regulations; old-style fury does not fit at all into the urban world. Only on the stage of the Athenian theater of Dionysus is it sometimes presented in its old-fashioned, delusional intensity. One may think of Sophocles' Ajax or Euripides' The Bacchae. However, generally it is presented only to remind mortals of the terrifying freedom of the gods. It serves as a reminder that the gods possess the power to completely destroy whomever they wish. The stoic philosophers, who turn to the civil audience during the following generations, will defend as convincingly as the best Sophists the claim that rage is in the last instance "unnatural" because it objects to the reasonable essence of the human being.

The domestication of rage creates the ancient form of a new masculinity. Indeed, the remaining affects that are useful for the polis are incorporated into the bourgeois thymos. Thymos survives as "manly courage" (Mannesmut, andreia), without which it is impossible for the practitioner of urban life to assert himself. Rage was also allowed to live a second life as useful and "just rage," responsible for protecting its possessors against insults and unwanted impositions. Additionally, it helps citizens to step in for the Good and the Right (or, to put it in a modern idiom, our interests). Without stout-heartedness (Beherztheit)—this is how one should better translate the term thymos nowadays—bourgeois metropolitan life is unthinkable. (This theme is especially interesting for Germans because they produce a new and special form of stout-heartedness after 1945. I mean the often praised civil courage, the meager level of courage for losers. With this form of courage the joys of democracy were introduced to an otherwise politically timid population). Moreover, the possibility of friendship between adult males in a city still depends on thymotic premises. After all, one can only play one's role as a friend among friends, an equal among equals, if one appreciates in one's fellow citizens the clear presence of universally acknowledged virtues. One does not want only to be proud of oneself but also of the alter ego, the friend, who distinguishes himself in front of the eyes of the community. To be in good reputation among competing men creates the thymotic fluidity of a self-confident community. Individual thymos appears now as part of a force-field that provides form to the common will. The first philosophical psychology of Europe unfolds itself as a political thymotic within this horizon." [Rage and Time]


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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:45 pm



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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:40 pm

Sloterdijk's fantastic polemic on America and Americanism...


Sloterdijk wrote:
"No one would seriously dispute that global capitalism – as polycentric as its structure might be – favours certain places, countries and populations. The United States of America is undoubtedly one of its preferred regions, not to say its main residence. It is the country in the modern that, more than any other, has given itself the constitution of a comfort sphere. One could almost say that in the case of the USA, the crystal palace presents itself as an immigration country. In keeping with this, most of its inhabitants have developed an inclination to view themselves not merely as agents of an economic system, but as carriers of a motivation that has long borne an irresistible name: the American Dream.1 Its basic definition includes the postulation that the number of its definitions is virtually as high as the number of the country's inhabitants. If one reduces all the dreams dreamt on American soil about the meaning of existence in that country to their essentials, however, one will probably be left with no more than three irreducible motifs.

The first consists in the proposition that the USA is essentially the country where, in contrast to the numerous lethargocracies in the rest of the world, anyone who wants to do something new can do something new. Among the constitutional rights of US citizens, one outstanding element is the expectation of finding at all times a space favourably disposed towards advances and initiatives. One could call this the right to the West, in a more than solely geographical sense, as ‘the West’ – as we saw in the reflections above – is a symbol of impunity in the unilateral penetration of unexplored areas. Once they may have been called Wyoming and California; today they are genetic research, nanotechnology, the colonization of Mars or artificial life.

The second characteristic is tied to the term ‘chosenness’ – a word that moves through a multi-coloured spectrum of meanings, starting with the notion that it is the most natural thing in the world to be at the top in all respects and extending to the rarely voiced, but widely palpable idea that the deep purpose of this country is to be the venue for the Protestant outdoing of the Jewish exception. Chosenness is the Anglo-American declination of the subjectivity invented in continental Europe; it means that transatlantic being-subject denotes the possibility of being called from the midst of normal, nonmoved life to be the agent of an intimately felt mission. Chosenness is the American password for the disinhibition of action and appearance on the world stage. Consequently the mission statement, the project creed, constitutes America's original contribution to the list of speech acts. The linguistic side of Americanism is expressed not only in the frequently derided superlatives of which the natives make such ample use; its most binding form is in the verbal gestures with which citizens of the United States pledge their ‘commitments’. The oft-glossed religiosity of Americans, a source of bafflement to Europeans, very frequently implies the strongly pre-Christian notion – reformulated with great criminal energy by Calvin – that God is with the victors, whatever the angelic pipes of the New Testament might sing and say about the preference of the Almighty for the weak.

The third and final attribute is connected to the psychodynamic social contract of the USA, which ensures the everlasting precedence of manias over depressions. One manifestation of this is the code of optimism that visitors from Europe find so cheering, albeit often baffling, and which constitutes the true national language (although selfcritical idioms, even an indigenous version of negativism, can also be found). This gives rise to the zestful habit among ordinary Americans of formulating problems as challenges. The spontaneous consequence of this is that obstacles are met with programmes for eliminating them. Nowhere else in the world would it be conceivable that an initiative to intensify cancer research and other medical projects could take the external form of an appeal to increase the defence budget, as could be read in the New York Times of 3 May 1998: as defeat in the battle against previously unvanquished diseases is fundamentally un-American, the war against devious causes of death must be waged using the ‘whole will of our nation’. (One can assume that echoes of the ‘war on poverty’ from the New Deal era influenced this language game.) The war against the invisible after 9/11 also had a much-noted, muddled second front, for it is equally un-American to be vulnerable to untraceable terrorists. The national mobilizations against illness and hidden enemies are direct products of an implicit manic amendment stating that no citizen of the United States should be expected to accept the existence of an internal or external reason for depression. US citizens profit from an additional human right that demands a subordination of discouraging affects to high spirits, and endorses the elimination of the causes for discouragement by any means.

Anyone living in the USA will always enjoy the support of their cultural environment in consistently thinking away and clearing away all impediments to exhilaration. This leads to a collective habitus of forced emotional accounting fraud, as no one wants to be in the red in the balance of high and low. When connoisseurs of the scene stated after the Enron scandal that it was merely the tip of an iceberg of monstrous proportions, this may have been true in the realm of dollar transactions; but one should not overlook how far the dollar is itself based on an emotional economy where the entire motivation system is pervaded by the concealment of reasons for depression and the sugar-coated falsification of assets.

If one brings together these three primary characteristics, one reaches the following assessment: in its psychopolitical design, the United States of America is the country of actually existing escapism. The home of every kind of escapee, it primarily harbours people who, faced with the hopelessness of their previous home situation, migrated to a wide space of second chances. An asylum for countless desperate and shipwrecked individuals, it took up many of the refugees who managed to save themselves from the floods of world history. An immigration country for unbound surplus drives, it offers a field of action most of all to those who believe in the precedence of initiative over inhibitions. As the Shining City on the Hill, it shows an endless crowd of emissaries from the gloomy yonder a plain wide enough to provide all enthusiasms with the right to settle and promulgate at a safe distance from one another. If one had to articulate the radiance and the paradox of the United States in a single sentence, it would be this: it allowed the forces of ‘history’ to withdraw from ‘history’. A further sentence then explains the current temptation: the forces that have escaped ‘history’ are now in the process of rediscovering ‘history’ for themselves.

America's globally radiating charm thus comes from the psychopolitical constitution of its ‘society’. From the eighteenth century to the present day, the inhabitants of the ‘States’ have succeeded in producing a non-Leibnizian version of optimism that could be repeatedly updated. Following this model, the given world can be considered the best, provided it looks sufficiently perfect from Ellis Island to be perfected infinitely in additional ways. This positioning on thoroughly positive ground is often taken for naïveté; in truth, it is a reformulation of the meaning of being from the perspective of participating in its improvement.4 This does not imply scaling optimism down to meliorism, as some America-friendly Europeans believe, but rather ramping optimism up to overoptimism. This permits the historically unprecedented combination of harsh realism and boundless irreverence towards the real – prefigured, if anywhere, from a distance in the staid religiosity of the ancient Romans, who managed to reconcile sentimental reverence towards origin with mechanical cruelty in present-day matters. The imperial Romans too were able to bow their heads before a higher power before returning seamlessly to the everyday business of repression. That is why Benedict of Nursia found the most effective instruction for the New Human Being of a post-Roman Europe when he replaced the ‘worship and kill’ of Romanism with the ‘pray and work’ of Christian monastic civility.

One understands, then, why the philosophical and psychopolitical dictates of the American way of life produce the most perfect manifestation of a post-historical mode of existence. While the Europeans (like the Japanese, the Chinese, the Indians, the Russians and some others along with them) only entered the world of post-historical conditions step by step over the last fifty years as new arrivals, the Americans can be considered veterans of post-history owing to their special path. For them, the news of the end of ‘history’ lost its novelty long ago. For them, the liberation from old scripts took place as soon as their country was founded. The American ‘Revolution’ took place at the same time as the Declaration of Independence, which abandoned not so much the English motherland as the entire system of Old European measurements, weights and prejudices about the burden of the world. The term ‘revolution’, when meant politically and connected to the future, thus smacks of pointless excitement to Americans – as if one expected them to wage the war they won against the British Crown two hundred years ago all over again.

The only liberation movement that still has meaning for Americans is that in which one attempts to break free from the personal relics of historical life, one's origins in one's own family: every individual can repeat the secession from history in private by liberating the inner child from the dominance of the parental world. The immeasurable expanse of the American therapy landscapes testifies to the resolute rejection by the country's population of all that was once oppressive external reality.

One should not forget that the ultimate aim of the liberation of the inner American child is the victor created before all time – the victor who enters the stage today with the features of a victim. Needless to say, the countless child-selves of the therapeutic archipelago known as the USA still embody the strongest bastion of post-history. Just as the immigrants could only become true Americans at the cost of leaving behind the identities they had brought with them, their descendants are now also liquidating the mental rubble that was brought to the New World from the inner worlds of yesterday. American therapy consists in converting historical fracture into post-historical self-reliance.

Naturally the concept of work also lost its Old European meaning in the USA: it refers not simply to the participation in transforming material into a higher-value product through invested energy – until, at the vanishing point of value creation, workers emancipate themselves from work as such. American work is a performance whose meaning is to show how the subject can proceed from the abundance of opportunities to the superabundance of success. Where else would it be conceivable for people to move to the South and slave away even more than in their previous homes? And where else could people in an officially egalitarian culture look upon the increasingly gaping chasm between rich and poor with such equanimity? The relaxed shamelessness of the American oligarchy proves how far the coronas that surround every success in that country are perceived by the great majority of Americans as emanations of their own faith. In the meritocratic climate, even the exaggeratedly remunerated achievements of others serve to prove the validity of the shared dream. Hence the absence, so enviable for Europeans, of ressentiments towards those who have made it.

In the light of all this, one can understand why the figures are always deceptive when dealing with the United States of America. According to its deep economy, the land needs no balances. It lives in a world above numbers, for it never moves from a given value to a higher one, as in trivial growth, but rather from perfection to over-perfection. It is only when viewed superficially that the United States, like every nation in the capitalist system, depends on constant economic and demographic growth. It is not the economic figures that prove its greatness; on the contrary, its greatness radiates the figures.

The thorn in the side of the great escapist nation, however, is the fact that the USA has no longer had what today's patriots call ‘energy independence’ since the end of the Second World War. Since the encounter between President Franklin D. Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy near the Suez Canal (a few days before the Yalta Conference in February 1945), the strategic alliance between the earth's two great poles of escapism has become one of the constants of recent world politics. From that moment on, the narcissistic escapism of the USA was firmly tied to the narcotic escapism of the Arab rentier states. Because of its strong dependence on petroleum imports from the regions around the Persian Gulf, the American exception thus remains at the mercy of external circumstances in humiliating fashion – the Carter Doctrine, which stated that the USA would take all steps to maintain control over the Gulf's resources, puts this entanglement in a nutshell. It is not surprising, then, that the ugliness of the historical world trickled into the interior of the American sphere of idealization through this realistic bond.

In the light of current events, it is apparent how, at the pinnacle of the unfolding of its power, the most thoroughly post-historically constituted country in the world is seized by the temptation to intervene in ‘history’ once again – this time not only in the role of the referee, however, who steps out of his reserve for short moments to settle the undignified quarrels between historical powers. The present American incursion into world events shows the hallmarks of a comprehensive restoration: it implies the transformation of the USA back into a historical power, which is inconceivable without the reinterpretation of the world as a scene where historical events are still, or once more, taking place. ‘History’, however – as explained above – is the successful phase of the unilateral style of action." [In the World Interior of Capitalism]

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:42 pm

Sloterdijk wrote:
"Theatrical projects such as the ‘conquest’ of the North Pole and South Pole in particular were entirely guided by that mania of immortalization for which going down in the annals of discovery history was the highest distinction. Alpinism was also a variety of the vanguard hysteria that wanted no eminent point on the earth's surface to remain unconquered. For a long time, the hunt for the fame promised by the first visits to the poles would remain the purest form of this learned delirium. Contemporaries of aviation and space travel can no longer comprehend the popular fascination and scientific prestige that were still attached to the two polar projects around 1900. The earth's poles not only epitomized that which was distant, devoid of humans and difficult to reach; they were also the focus of the dream of an absolute centre or axial zero point, which was barely anything other than the continuation of the search for God in the geographical element.

In this context it is appropriate to remind ourselves that the era in which Sigmund Freud would make a name for himself as the ‘discoverer of the unconscious’ also saw the climax of the races for the earth's poles and the grand coalition of Europeans to extinguish the last white spots on the map of Africa. In its habitus of disclosure and foundation, the enterprise of psychoanalysis belongs to the age of empire builders such as Henry Morton Stanley and Cecil Rhodes (‘I would annex the planets if I could’).

These were joined not long afterwards by Freud's age-mate, the young Hanoverian Carl Peters (briefly a Privatdozent in Leipzig), the later founder of German East Africa, whose philosophical treatise Willenswelt und Weltwille (1883) had conceptually realized the imperialization of the irrational ground of life in advance. Freud's ambition can only be explained in relation to the projects of those men. Had the unconscious not been present in vague outlines on the maps of the reflective spirit since the days of the young Schelling? Was it not natural to claim that its dark interior had finally become ripe for the ‘sickle of civilization’? If Freud, who was familiar with the works of the Africa-conquerors Stanley and Baker, chose the ‘true inner Africa’ in the psyche of every person on his path to fame, this choice of research area testified to an excellent imperial instinct.

Freud's self-assured scientism manifested itself in the fact that he claimed not an island on the icy outskirts, but rather a hot and centrally situated metacontinent for himself. His ingenuity exhibited itself impressively when, thanks to his topological maps, he succeeded in acquiring the unconscious de facto as Sigmund Freud Land. That he drew its borders with a ruler was in keeping with his time's ideal of rational territorial planning. He stoically took the white man's burden upon his shoulders when, summarizing his work, he stated: ‘Psychoanalysis is an instrument to enable the ego to achieve a progressive conquest of the id.’18 Even if the sad tropics of the id are meanwhile increasingly being managed by new occupiers, and unanalysable Calibans are even declaring their decolonization, the old Freudian landmarks remain clearly visible in many places. Whether they will be able to command more than touristic interest in the long run, however, is uncertain." [World Interior of Capitalism]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:22 pm

Ha! She deleted my Sloterdijk entries SMH

I know why Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:26 pm

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:46 pm

Sloterdijk wrote:
"A thesis presented not long ago by Heiner Mühlmann, in a recent essay on cultures as learning units, in the form of a resolute question followed by a succinct answer: ‘How does transcendence come about? It comes about through the misunderstanding of slowness.’ The author clarifies: ‘A movement is slow if it takes longer than a generation. In order to observe it, we must depend on co-operation with those who lived before us and those who will live after us.’4 As co-operations with previous and subsequent generations have been either only rarely achieved or structurally impossible, and at best remained precarious episodes, it is understandable that, in previous times, most of these slow phenomena were consigned to the realm of transcendence, which here means: to the realm of the unobservable. As a result, they could be declared subject to the otherworldly plans of some transhuman or divine intelligence, and no objection would have had any chance of success. As soon as technologically and scientifically matured civilizations develop effective methods for the observation of slow phenomena, however, the concept of transcendental planning loses a considerable part of its plausibility – whether it is known as creation, prediction, predestination, salvation history or the like – and makes room for immanent procedures serving the interpretation of long-term processes. These means can encompass biological or socio-systemic evolution theories, wave models and crack theories that allow a description of oscillations and mutations in the realm of the longue durée. Only then can the difficulties and failures of evolution be assessed in their full extent, without the forced positivism of the creation idea compelling us to look away. In orthodox communities where identification with the edifying notion of transcendental planning is still very intense, one can observe militant resistance to the conceptual means leading to the secularization of those slow phenomena previously consigned to the hereafter. This is exemplified most clearly by the creationists in the USA, who are known to resort to all manner of methods in order to immunize their doctrine of sudden, intentional creation against the new sciences of slow, self-organized becoming.
The second step lies in recognizing the following: transcendence also arises from the misunderstanding of vehemence. In order to clarify this idea, I shall draw once again on a concept introduced into the cultural sciences by Heiner Mühlmann – namely the link between stress analysis and the theory of the determinate formation of rituals and symbols laid out in his epochal programmatic text The Nature of Cultures.

The phenomenology of the great stress reaction in homo sapiens and the ways in which cultures have sought to cope with it make it clear why, to the subject of stress, the conditions experienced often seem be of a transcendent nature. The vehemence of endogenous processes – which are initially strictly biologically determined, though very often cloaked by symbolism – can, in some cases, reach such a level that what is experienced is inevitably attributed to external forces.

Within our space of tradition, the model for this is provided by the wrath of Achilles as recounted by Homer, invoked throughout millennia by the warriors of the old Europe as the numinous origin of their noble and cruel profession. Undoubtedly heroic wrath is part of the same phenomenon as the manifestations of battle frenzy found in numerous cultures, which can in turn be compared to prophetic ecstasies. In physiological terms, the episodes of heroic fury show the result of an identification of the warrior with the propulsive energies that overcome him. It belongs within the spectrum of berserker enthusiasms, which includes the well-known amok syndrome of the Malaysian peoples (eagerly taken up by Western mass culture and pop-psychologically instrumentalized from within as an example of the wild), alongside the ecstatic rapture of the Vedic warriors or the battle rage of the Germanic heroes, which extended even to a lust for their own demise. In almost every case this fury, in the eyes of its bearers, seems to take, almost by necessity, the form of an obsession inspired from above, in which the martial energy of the agent is completely absorbed, making the battle appear to him as a mission. As a primal form of endogenous revelatory experience, fury constitutes something like the natural religion of the impassioned. As long as the transcendental misunderstanding of vehemence predominates, it is impossible to see how something that is experienced as an inspiration of strength could arise from a psychosemantically influenced process initiated from within the organism when it is subjected to extreme stress – a description that would presum-ably also apply to a considerable number of prophetic ecstasies.

Furthermore, this massive reaction to stress manifests itself in not only an explosive, but also an implosive, mode. There was an example of this a number of years ago, at a bullfight in one of the most important arenas in Madrid. The matador had made three failed attempts to deal the deadly blow to the charging bull – upon which he was seized by a sort of dumbfounded numbness, a state in which he would have been run down or killed by the raging animal if his colleagues had not carried the paralysed bullfighter from the arena. The scene can best be understood by recognizing in it the reversal of the stress reaction into an ecstasy of self-rejection. In that moment, shame revealed itself to the failed matador (in Spanish: the killer) like some otherworldly force. Although the physiological side of the incident is thus not especially mysterious, its spiritual aspect is at least somewhat harder to pin down. But we can certainly speculate: if one established a connection to the religious sphere, this should remind us to what extent the God who judges humanity also has the power of damnation. Whoever finds themselves wishing the ground would swallow them up not only feels the disadvantage of being visible, but also has an immediate understanding of what it means for one's own name to be erased from the Book of Life. This much is clear: the connection between guilt, shame and stress, without which the fervour of some religious subjects against themselves would be inconceivable, is rooted in endogenous mechanisms that are open to psychobiological elucidation. Much of what Rudolf Otto refers to in his well-known book Das Heilige as the mysterium tremendum7 lies de jure within the realm of stress theory. Taken as a whole, Otto's study – despite certain achievements towards a clarification of the objective field – can be considered a solemn misunderstanding of vehemence. In the fear and trembling side of religion often cited since Otto, one finds a manifestation of the neurosemantically significant fact that artificially induced extremes of experience appear at the ritual centre of all those religions which have succeeded in maintaining a lasting tradition. Paradoxically, it has been precisely the monotheistic scriptural religions, apparently endangered by the paleness of the letter, that have shown a great aptitude in finding a solid foundation in effective ritualizations of the most extreme arousal. Only in this way have they been able to secure their inscription on the involuntary memories of the faithful.

A third form of transcendence that is open to elucidation stems from a misunderstanding of what I call the ‘inaccessibility of the other’. Towards the end of the second part of his novel tetralogy Joseph and his Brothers, written in 1934, Thomas Mann describes how Jacob, having received the news of his favourite son Joseph's alleged death, embarks on an excessive ritual of mourning: he perches himself on a rubbish heap in his courtyard, as Job later did, and hurls laments, accusations and protests at God and fate over endless days and weeks. Once the first wave of grief has subsided, Jacob realizes how improperly he has behaved – and now begins to see it as a great advantage that God did not react like some offended spouse or partner to everything he said in his heated state, rather choosing to conceal himself through remoteness; Thomas Mann speaks subtly of Jacob's provocative ‘impetuous misery’ [Elendsübermut], which God fortunately ignored ‘with silent tolerance’. Clearly one should first of all interpret God's calm non-reaction, which some theologians make quite some fuss about, in a more plausible fashion, both here and elsewhere. It is initially no more than a simple case of inaccessibility, and a number of substantial conditions would have to be met before one could conclude that someone who does not react is therefore a superior, indeed transcendent, other. If one were to tell a deaf-mute the story of one's life, one should not conclude from his silence that he prefers to keep his comments to himself. In such situations, transcendence arises from an over-interpretation of unresponsiveness. It results from the fact that some others are initially – and largely – unreachable, and therefore remain independent from us.

Hence they lie outside of the fantasies of symmetry that determine our usual notions of reply, understanding, retaliation and the like. This discovery can lead to the formation of sensible relationships between people, relationships characterized by the hygiene of proper distance. The independence of the other is the stumbling block for any delusional search for partnership – this failure, however, constitutes a great step on the way to a freedom capable of relationships. The appropriate response to an encounter with an intelligence that remains free even in the act of co-operation is therefore gratitude for the independence of the other. So even if we are dealing here with a conception of transcendence marked by misjudgement, one should honour ‘God’ – in so far as this means the ultimate other – as a morally fruitful concept that attunes humans to dealing with an unmanipulable communicative counterpart.

Finally, the development of an important part of immanently transferable transcendence can be traced back to an overlooking of immune functions. Immune systems are the embodiments of expectations of injury. At the biological level they manifest themselves in the ability to form antibodies, at the legal level in the form of procedures to compensate for injustice and aggression, at the magical level in the form of protective spells, at the religious level in the shape of rituals to overcome chaos – the latter show people how to carry on when, by human reckoning, there is no way forward. From a systemic point of view – and perceived through the prism of functional distortions – religions can be defined as psychosemantic institutions with a dual focus. On the one hand, they specialize in dealing with impairments of integrity and devote themselves, thus viewed, to a wide range of psycho- and socio-therapeutic causes. On the other hand, they serve to channel and encode the human talent for excess – a function that, since European Romanticism, has largely been handed over to the art system.

At the centre of the first functional circle lies the need to give meaning to suffering, death, disorder and chance. This service, which combines the consolation of individuals with the ritual consolidation of groups, is often granted at the price of an unpredictable side effect: the edifying effects of religions are inevitably tied to ritualized speech acts, and thus attached to the level of symbolic generalization. Something that should function as a cure must simultaneously present itself as a symbolically structured conception of the world, i.e. as an ensemble of truths with claims to practical and theoretical validity. This contains the seed of a confusion of categories with virtually explosive consequences. It is the same as the temptation to elevate a pharmakon to the level of a deity. Because several symbolically stabilized immune systems normally exist alongside one another, all circulating their generalizations simultaneously, it is inevitable that these will question – or even, depending on the intensity of their respective claims to generality, partially or totally negate – one another. When there are collisions between such systems, the task of instilling edifying thoughts – or more generally, of imposing order on life by placing a frame around it – is combined with the need to be right. In order to do justice to conflicts of this type, one would have to imagine Prozac patients and Valium users accusing each other of heresy and warning of grave loss of health if the other does not convert to using the same medication. I have chosen the names of sedatives that, as we know, occasionally fail to achieve the desired effect and trigger manic states instead. The phenomenon known since St Paul's day as ‘faith’ has always been accompanied by a comparable risk.

The welcome psychosemantic effects of religious conviction, namely the spiritual stabilization and social integration of believers, are tied to dangerous effects that correspond closely with the aforementioned manic reaction – since long before the beginning of monotheistic religions, one should add. One should therefore not take the well-documented fact that the formulation of the expansive monotheisms arose from their founders' states of manic-apocalyptic arousal lightly. The overlooking of the immune function here has a direct effect on the notion of truth. Whereas the pragmatic mentality contents itself with the belief that whatever helps is true, zealous behaviour insists on the axiom that truth is only to be found in a belief system which is entitled to demand universal subordination. Here the danger comes from the zealous tendency of a misunderstood claim to theoretical validity.

The arguments mentioned thus far follow, of course, the tradition of David Hume's work The Natural History of Religion from 1757, though – unlike the early Enlightenment – they no longer reduce religious ideas merely to primitive ‘hopes and fears’. The renovated version of the criticism of religion follows on from certain concepts in general cultural theory, which asks under what conditions cultural programmes achieve horizontal coherence, vertical capacity for continuation and personal internalization within a given populace. Thanks to its complex view, the new approach also permits detailed insights into the natural and social history of false conclusions. In contrast to the classics of the Enlightenment, the new descriptions of religious aspects sketched here do not explain certain manifestations of faith through natural human error; rather, they see them as surplus phenomena that chronically expose humans to an excess of uplifting and unifying energies. The updated natural history of religion falls back on an anthropology of overreaction; this permits an illumination of the evolution of Homo sapiens through a theory of luxuriating surplus drives within insulated groups.8 These surpluses would include those of consciousness that make human existence effusive or enigmatic. The concepts of surplus and overreaction do not only help to understand the energetic side of religious phenomena – they also shed light on the actual tenets of faith, as every single theopoesis is based on the universals of exaggeration.

I shall also mention a fifth aspect of transcendence for which, in my opinion, there are no functionalist or naturalist substitute descriptions of a binding nature that can be brought into the debate. Some philosophical and religious authors have articulated the thought that one element of human intelligence is the ability to imagine another intelligence superior to itself. This uplift, even if it often takes place as a mere formality, carries intelligence beyond its normal level. It shows it that understanding itself properly depends on recognizing the vertical tension to which it is subject. It is in this tension that it can grow – assuming it chooses the risk entailed by learning. Intelligence always lives within its internal surplus or deficit, and through the gesture of taking the higher pole as its model, intelligence declares its own peculiar form of transcendence. There is no need for us to concern ourselves with the variety of such gestures in the monotheistic religions (typically expressed as an insistence on studying the scriptures) and in classical philosophy (which equates suffering with learning).

Taking into account people's responses to the provocation of thinking through the inevitability of death brings us into contact with a further irreducible aspect of religious behaviour. It is above all the topological aspect of the death question that opens the door to transcendence in an entirely different sense. Mortals – to use the Greek title for humans – have always been under pressure to imagine the place the departed have ‘gone to’, and to which they too will ‘migrate’ post mortem. It is undeni-able that this subject stimulates the imagination to bring forth remarkable fruits, as is particularly evident from the detailed depictions of places in the hereafter, of both paradisaic and infernal varieties – but the problem here goes far beyond a diagnostic observation of projective fantasies. One cannot create a simple continuum between the spatial and locative understanding of the living and their imaginary ideas of ‘places’ in the beyond. Therefore, the place of the dead remains transcendent in a sense of the word that requires clarification. It constitutes a heterotopic standard – if it expresses the belief that the dead are ‘dwelling’ in an elsewhere that eludes the alternatives of somewhere and nowhere. Tradition offers highly divergent encodings for this ‘xenolocative’ elsewhere, ranging from the phrase ‘with God’ to ‘in Nirvana’ or ‘in the memory of those who love’. As illustrative, ambiguous and vague as these characterizations may be, their obstinate peculiarity resists any hasty reductions to a trivial nowhere.

Finally, I would like to mention a seventh meaning of transcendence that likewise cannot easily be disposed of in favour of a simple naturalistic explanation. It is coupled with the belief that a higher power beyond, usually known as ‘God’, turns its attention to individual humans in special moments – out of love, sympathy or outrage – and chooses them as recipients of messages that, following certain criteria of authentication, are interpreted as revelations. the concept of revelation unmistakably belongs to the world of Homo hierarchicus. It sets up an analogy between the feudal relationship of lord and vassal and the cognitive relationship of object and subject, with a clear emphasis on the primacy of the lord and the object. According to this model, the receipt of a revelation corresponds to the extreme of vassalic passivity. It marks a case in which listening and obeying coincide; in other contexts one would speak of an offer that cannot be refused. It is immediately clear why this model loses its plausibility, both socially and epistemologically, in cultures characterized by devassalization. The notion of purely receptive subjects transpires as logically and empirically untenable. The subject could not reply to the angel of the object: ‘May it be as you have said’; on the contrary, it knows that it impresses its own ‘frame of possibilities’ upon all the objects it experiences. For this and other reasons, the idea of a revelation that can be dictated and passively accepted reaches a point of crisis. Whatever is made known to subjects, and whoever does so, it can no longer be conceived of without the contribution of its recipient." [God's Zeal]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:36 am

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Wed Aug 31, 2016 5:48 pm

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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:15 pm

Sloterdijk wrote:
"What is called "freedom" is the positive rebranding of our disconnection from smaller tribal groups."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Sloterdijk

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