Thursday, August 02, 2007

William James quote via Christopher Lasch

Epigraph to THE MINIMAL SELF (1984)

"The entire modern deification of survival per se, survival returning to itself, survival naked and abstract, with the denial of any substantive excellence in what survives, except the capacity for more survival still, is surely the stangest intellectual stopping-place ever proposed by one man to another."


We could also say: Existence is ridiculous: but, what's the alternative?

2 Comments:

Blogger john hanson said...

it's been awhile since i've come across lasch
i liked him when i read him

can it be understood then
that the frantic nature
with which americans in general
go about satisfying every suggested want and need
(and rarely getting what they really want)
is motivated by this panic driven
message that we need to survive?

it is a bit facile to say
existence is merely ridiculous
it is easy to see the ridiculous in our daily
lives
in fact it is more and more manifest
everytime i go look around
i am amazed at things
and the amazement does stem from
the perception of the ridiculous

but existence is sublime
existence is tragic
(although the media mind makes
tragedy to be either a spectacle or something to be quickly forgotten....does anyone remember
the korean student who had a bad day last spring in virginia?)
existence is fascinating
to the scientists
at least i hope there is some fascination with nature with existence
existence is still a great place to begin
with artistic inspiration
even if it all looks a bit ridiculous after awhile
dada

what's with all these phuqqin survival shows on tv these days?

the fundamental metaphysical observation of existence:
it is!

7:39 PM  
Blogger john hanson said...

i've been thinking of that quote again

thinking of it in terms of what
gets spoken in the effort
to sustain national pride
especially today as we face
some of the more wretched truths
pertaining to USA

political hopefuls
racing to the presidencey
seem to (out of survival necessity)
speak of positive potential
policies are wrong perhaps
but everything else is basically good
it (the country) needs some better direction
that is all

but what would it take to
really peer into the culture
and be honest about
insanity social insanity
the ludicrousness we live with everyday
a whole society gone insane

these days it seems impossible
except for a few poets
and honest thinkers
and the occasional comedian

in an art project that lasts a long time
the creator is often amazed at how
the initial perceptions of what is happening
are transformed by the realities of life as it is actually lived
the construct in the mind
must bow to the messages riding on the surface of the river of time

in this light the preoccupation with survival becomes a lesser concern than
particpating in the mystery of life
in a full
and often times
inexplicable way

10:04 AM  

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