.. the lesson from the persecutions would seem to me—and certainly if you follow Jewish tradition, the lesson of those persecutions, we have always said, until the state of Israel came into being, is that you do not treat people in that kind of an inhumane and cruel way. And the hope always was that Israel would be a model democracy, but not just a democracy, but a state that would practice Jewish values, in terms of its humanitarian approach to these issues, its pursuit of justice and so on.

I have always felt that, for me, the Holocaust experience, which was important to me, since I lived two years under Nazi occupation, most of it running from place to place and in hiding—I always thought that the important lesson of the Holocaust is not that there is evil, that there are evil people in this world who could do the most unimaginable, unimaginably cruel things. That was not the great lesson of the Holocaust. The great lesson of the Holocaust is that decent, cultured people, people we would otherwise consider good people, can allow such evil to prevail, that the German public—these were not monsters, but it was OK with them that the Nazi machine did what it did. Now I draw no comparisons between the Nazi machine and Israeli policy. And what I resent most deeply is when people say, “How dare you invoke the Nazi experience?” The point isn’t, you know, what exactly they did, but the point is the evidence that they gave that decent people can watch evil and do nothing about it. That is the most important lesson of the Holocaust, not the Hitlers and not the SS, but the public that allowed this to happen. And my deep disappointment is that the Israeli public, precisely because Israel is a democracy and cannot say, “We’re not responsible what our leaders do,” that the public puts these people back into office again and again.

At this point we must make clear to ourselves what we mean by the expression ‘an object of representations’. We have stated above that appearances are themselves nothing but sensible representations, which, as such and in themselves, must not be taken as objects capable of existing outside our power of representation. What, then, is to be understood when we speak of an object corresponding to, and consequently also distinct from, our knowledge? It is easily seen that this object must be thought only as something in general = x, since outside our knowledge we have nothing which we could set over against this knowledge as corresponding to it.
 Now we find that our thought of the relation of all knowledge to its object carries with it an element of necessity; the object is viewed as that which prevents our modes of knowledge from being haphazard or arbitrary, and which determines them a priori in some definite fashion. For in so far as they are to relate to an object, they must necessarily agree with one another, that is, must possess that unity which constitutes the concept of an object.
 But it is clear that, since we have to deal only with the manifold of our representations, and since that x (the object) which corresponds to them is nothing to us being, as it is, something that has to be distinct from all our representations the unity which the object makes necessary can be nothing else than the formal unity of consciousness in the synthesis of the manifold of representations. It is only when we have thus produced synthetic unity in the manifold of intuition that we are in a position to say that we know the object. But this unity is impossible if the intuition cannot be generated in accordance with a rule by means of such a function of synthesis as makes the reproduction of the manifold a priori necessary, and renders possible a concept in which it is united. Thus we think a triangle as an object, in that we are conscious of the combination of three straight lines according to a rule by which such an intuition can always be represented. This unity of rule determines all the manifold, and limits it to conditions which make unity of apperception possible. The concept of this unity is the representation of the object = x, which I think through the predicates, above mentioned, of a triangle.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Poetry leads to the same place as all forms of eroticism — to the blending and fusion of separate objects. It leads us to eternity, it leads us to death, and through death to continuity. Poetry is eternity; the sun matched with the sea.

Georges Bataille, Death and Sensuality  (via 1109-83)

It is a merely empirical law, that representations which have often followed or accompanied one another finally become associated, and so are set in a relation whereby, even in the absence of the object, one of these representations can, in accordance with a fixed rule, bring about a transition of the mind to the other. But this law of reproduction presupposes that appearances are themselves actually subject to such a rule, and that in the manifold of these representations a coexistence or sequence takes place in conformity with certain rules. Otherwise our empirical imagination would never find opportunity for exercise appropriate to its powers, and so would remain concealed within the mind as a dead and to us unknown faculty. If cinnabar were sometimes red, sometimes black, sometimes light, sometimes heavy, if a man changed sometimes into this and sometimes into that animal form, if the country on the longest day were sometimes covered with fruit, sometimes with ice and snow, my empirical imagination would never find opportunity when representing red colour to bring to mind heavy cinnabar. Nor could there be an empirical synthesis of reproduction, if a certain name were sometimes given to this, sometimes to that object, or were one and the same thing named sometimes in one way, sometimes in another, independently of any rule to which appearances are in themselves subject.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

The banker’s speech was fluent, but it was also copious, and he used up an appreciable amount of time in brief meditative pauses. Do not imagine his sickly aspect to have been of the yellow, black-haired sort: he had a pale blond skin, thin gray-besprinkled brown hair, light-gray eyes, and a large forehead. Loud men called his subdued tone an undertone, and sometimes implied that it was inconsistent with openness; though there seems to be no reason why a loud man should not be given to concealment of anything except his own voice, unless it can be shown that Holy Writ has placed the seat of candor in the lungs. Mr. Bulstrode had also a deferential bending attitude in listening, and an apparently fixed attentiveness in his eyes which made those persons who thought themselves worth hearing infer that he was seeking the utmost improvement from their discourse. Others, who expected to make no great figure, disliked this kind of moral lantern turned on them. If you are not proud of your cellar, there is no thrill of satisfaction in seeing your guest hold up his wine-glass to the light and look judicial. Such joys are reserved for conscious merit. Hence Mr. Bulstrode’s close attention was not agreeable to the publicans and sinners in Middlemarch

So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent –if not inappropriate– response. To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by war and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may –in ways we might prefer not to imagine– be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark.

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (via afghangry)

Among others there are two kinds of philosophizing: there is a privileged philosophy pedal by those protected by the fortress called the neoliberal Academy and there is the nomadic “Homeless” philosophy. The philosopher of the former category can talk about Philosophy but their words betray them in the very professing of it. Then there are those who profess a philosophy from the point of view of poverty. This category of philosophizing connects the words with the action. The seeds of a revolution can only be grown from The germs of a philosophy from the point of view of poverty.

Creston Davis from his conversations with teacher Alain Badiou, using Deleuzian terms against the hypocritical neoliberal academy (via multiverse-honeybears)

…We are something like apparitions today; juggling a multiplicity of selves through the noise; the “you” you are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Tinder…wherever…at your day job, your night job, your hobby, your primary relationship, your friend-with-benefits, your incredibly astonishing range of extracurricular activities. But this hyperfragmentation of self gives rise to a kind of schizophrenia; conflicts, dissocations, tensions, dislocations, anxieties, paranoias, delusions. Our social wombs do not give birth to our true selves; the selves explosive with capability, possibility, wonder.

Tap tap tap. And yet. We are barely there, at all; in our own lives; in the moments which we will one day look back on and ask ourselves…what were we thinking wasting our lives on things that didn’t matter at all?

The answer, of course, is that we weren’t thinking. Or feeling. We don’t have time to think anymore. Thinking is a superluxury. Feeling is an even bigger superluxury.


柄谷行人, 探求 I


柄谷行人, 探求 I

The new art of government therefore appears as the management of freedom, not in the sense of the imperative: “be free,” with the immediate contradiction that this imperative may contain. The formula of liberalism is not “be free.” Liberalism formulates simply the following: I am going to produce what you need to be free. I am going to see to it that you are free to be free. And so, if this liberalism is not so much the imperative of freedom as the management and organization of the conditions in which one can be free […] Liberalism must produce freedom, but this very act entails the establishment of limitations, controls, forms of coercion, and obligations relying on threats, etcetera.’

Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics (via thegreatrefusal)


JOAN CRAWFORD:  This famous scene from “Mommie Dearest" shows Joan Crawford — played by actress Faye Dunaway — confronting the Pepsi Cola board of directors after the death in 1959 of her husband, Al Steele, who had been the company’s president. Crawford was initially advised that her services were no longer required. After she told the story to Louella Parsons, Pepsi reversed its position and Crawford was elected to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors. I love the way this encounter reflects the tensions of gender and power in corporate America.

Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner and the rest of the reporters at the New York Times Jerusalem bureau actually have to devote endless stores of energy to avoid reporting on all of the outrages unfolding all around them. Instead of reporting on the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse Bedouin citizens of Israel, for example, or the anti-African race riots in Tel Aviv—pivotal events in the history of the state of Israel—Rudoren covers a beauty contest for Holocaust survivors or takes to Facebook to complain about how she missed her spinning class but made up for it by scaling the steps of a building in Gaza destroyed by Israeli bombing. And when Kershner covers the national campaign to expel non-Jewish Africans, she focuses the story on the liberal Israelis and their anguished souls, rather than on the Africans who are being rounded up and placed in camps for the crime of not being Jewish. Just imagine if they went out and covered what was actually happening on the ground and clinically detailed the logic and planning behind it.
 When I stayed in Jaffa, just five minutes south of Tel Aviv, I witnessed racist extremism all around me through the state-orchestrated process of Judaization. In Jaffa, this process takes the form of a very politicized kind of gentrification, with wealthy Tel Aviv tech entrepreneurs and wealthy American Jews being planted into the heart of this poor, deliberately neglected community—where, by the way, there are/were five hundred standing eviction orders, almost all for Palestinian residents. Judaization in Jaffa also has relied on the increasing presence of religious nationalists not so different from the fanatical settlers in the West Bank. My favorite fish restaurant, a Palestinian-owned place where I would sometimes hang out with friends and colleagues from Tel Aviv, was attacked and firebombed by right-wing extremists. A house down the street was attacked and just weeks before one of the oldest Muslim graveyards in Palestine was vandalized in a “price-tag” attack by settlers. This is inside the heart of “Israel proper.” Soon after that a group of settlers won an auction to build a religious nationalist yeshiva in the middle of Jaffa.

We are already seeing the social hierarchy being registered in more subtle criteria: type of work and responsibility, level of education and culture (the wayof consuming everyday goods may itself be a kind of ‘scarce commodity’), participation in decision-making. Knowledge and power are, or are going to become, the two great scarce commodities of our affluent societies.
 But these abstract criteria do not prevent us, even today, from reading a growing discrimination in other concrete signs. Segregation by place of residence is not new, but, being increasingly linked to a consciously induced shortage and chronic speculation, it is tending to become decisive, in terms of both geographical segregation (town centres and outskirts, residential zones, rich ghettos, dormitory suburbs, etc.) and habitable space (the inside and outside of the dwelling, the addition of a ‘second home’, etc.). Objects are less important today than space and the social marking of space. Habitat thus perhaps has an opposite function to that of other consumables. The latter have a homogenizing function, the former a differentiating function in terms of space and location.
 Nature, space, clean air, silence—it is the incidence of the pursuit of these scarce commodities and their high price which we read in the differential indices of expenditure between two categories at opposite ends of the social spectrum. The difference in expenditure between workers and senior managers on essential goods is 100:135, but it is 100:245 on household equipment, 100:305 on transport and 100:390 on leisure. One should not see these figures as showing a quantitative graduation within a homogeneous space of consumption, but see, through them, the social discrimination attaching to the quality of goods sought after.
 There is much talk of the right to health, to space, to beauty, to holidays, to knowledge and to culture. And, as these new rights emerge, so ministries emerge with them, such as the Ministries of Health, or of Leisure. And why not add Beauty and Clean Air? This whole phenomenon, which seems to express a general individual and collective advance, rewarded in the end with embodiment in institutions, is ambiguous in its meaning and one might, as it were, see it as representing quite the opposite: there is no right to space until there no longer is space for everyone, and until space and silence are the privilege of some at the expense of others. Just as there was no ‘right to property’ until there was no longer land for everyone and there was no right to work until work became, within the framework of the division of labour, an exchangeable commodity, i.e. one which no longer belonged specifically to individuals. We might ask whether the ‘right to leisure’ does not, similarly, mean that leisure too has reached the stage of technical and social division which work did before it and has thus, in fact, come to an end.
 The appearance of these new social rights, brandished as slogans and emblazoned on the democratic banner of the affluent society, is in fact symptomatic, therefore, of the elements concerned acquiring the status of distinctive signs and class (or caste) privileges. The ‘right to clean air’ signifies the loss of clean air as a natural good, its transition to commodity status and its inegalitarian social redistribution. One should not mistake for objective social progress (something being entered as a right in the tables of the law) what is simply the advance of the capitalist system—i.e. the progressive transformation of all concrete and natural values into productive forms, i.e. into sources
 1 of economic profit;
 2 of social privilege.

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society