•March 6, 2019 • Leave a Comment

My English copy of Adorno’s “Minima Moralia” (seminal seminal text of post WWII response to vogue existentialism) translates „Reflexionen aus dem beschädigten Leben“ as “Reflections on a Damaged Life” — this is not the proper translation; technically it is an honest and fitting translation, but. I’ve seen that translated also as “Reflections on Damaged Life,” losing the article to express what I interpret as Adorno’s point — it isn’t that *a* life has been damaged, rather that “life” as commonly understood, the process of *living* as an extant being has in its essence been damaged beyond conceivable repair. This interpretation holds true even 74 years after WWII’s end, and projects a means of resistance to the post-capitalist public information-totalitarianism knocking on our collective doors.

*addendum* — by the act of writing to a collective “us,” and addressing a future “we,” Adorno complicates the postwar logic of I and Thou.

Advertisements

A Calling or a Hobby?

•February 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

My entire life, my thought has been organized around the basic principle — assumption — that material reality fundamentally is knowable. Given the time, instruments, work, and imagination, the basic nature of what constitutes everything we experience, from our morning coffee to our office affair to our heroin addiction can be explained, analyzed rationally, and, if needed, diagnosed and treated, but always with the underlying understanding that everything can be explained.

What if that’s not the case? What if the correct answer to an unthought-of question isn’t just “I don’t know,” but also “I don’t know why” and “I don’t know how?” What happens, aside from the shattering of physics, chemistry, ontology, metaphysics — practically everything but art (which brackets or completely ignores what we consider a ‘reality principle?’) What if even subatomically, what and who we are operates on a level we don’t know and — most importantly — *can’t know?* If the nature of reality is inaccessible to us not because we haven’t developed proper tools (physical, ideospherical or philosophical) but because reality’s warp and weft, so to speak, is inaccessible to us?

If particle physics’ basic assumption that the world is there and it can be known isn’t the case? To adopt the famous phrasing, if not do we not know what we don’t know, but can’t know what we don’t know?

Jettisoning that seemingly basic assumption leaves us grasping in the dark for meaning that has always been assumed, but may not have ever been. To quote the balladeer of apocalypse, the Talking Heads, “home — is where I want to be / but I guess I’m already there.”

To abuse a phrase, there might not be any there, there.

Boots We Had Known

•January 30, 2019 • Leave a Comment

“We bathed the children and went out on the back porch, smoked and drank coffee, talked about shoes. We talked about all the important shoes in our lives. The first penny loafers, first high heels. Silver platforms. Boots we had known. Perfect pumps. Handmade sandals. Huaraches. Spike heels. While we talked our bare feet wriggled in the damp green grass by the porch. Her toenails were painted black.”

—Lucia Berlin, “Melina,” A Manual for Cleaning Women

The Twenty-Eighth Amendment

•January 12, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This editorial from the New York Times’ Editorial Board rightfully applauds the decision by Florida voters to restore voting rights to convicted felons. Why not enshrine the right to vote for all in the Constitution once and for all? Currently, the Thirteenth (slaves/former slaves), Nineteenth (women), and the Twenty-Sixth (lowering the voting age from 21 to 18) Amendments each expand the franchise. Why not amend the constitution to combine those three and establish the right to vote for citizens absolutely and permanently?

Proposal, the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution: “The Right to vote is hereby affirmed for all United States citizens aged eighteen or older, and shall not be abrogated for any reason.”

Clear as crystal.

 

Straight From the Cat’s Mouth

•December 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Ah, dear Ariel — this is only a short clip, but this is continuous on the rare occasions he’s awake.

https://soundcloud.com/ben-taylor-2/ariel

Nostalghia Rerum

•December 20, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Take me back, dear memory, to the Bush years, to a future yet unfolding, possibilities yet unpronounced, opportunities unclaimed, when books by Russian “subversives” along with a crunchy new englander, a husband and wife pair of american academics and a sorrow-beladen German poet (among many) could lead you to experience the other side of night, drinking strong coffee while night dwindled, educating myself in what the coming eight hours would nor.

Being Thankful

•November 22, 2018 • 1 Comment

Thanksgiving is one of the most quintessentially American holidays, marked by excess, overeating, torpor and American football. I rate it second only to the Fourth of July, on which we blow shit up and feast on grilled meat and drink beer while doing the above. Today, to my knowledge, the USA is the only nation for which this is a national holiday (a leadup to the consumer late-capitalist coke-opioids-and-red bull-fueled mania that comes tomorrow, but that’s a different topic for a different time.) However wildly inaccurate and offensive to native peoples the narrative passed on to many Americans, “Thanksgiving” does retain a patina of straightforward wisdom, once the excess is put to the side.

Thanksgiving as a concept — not as a parade, or a Roman paean to debauchery or a day off work (rare those have become) — retains power if one considers it as a principle, to be contemplated and acted upon in daily life. Be thankful. Appreciate those whom you love and who love you, regardless of whether or not you think yourself deserving. It’s an American holiday, but a universal principle: of all the infinite possible combinations of matter and energy to which we cannot yet append a name — out of that improbable chaos, you are here. Your family is here, your friends are here, and you play a part in the cantata that is existence. For that, for you, I am thankful.

 
%d bloggers like this: