notes. mine. philosophy. book.

nat­u­rall occur­ing orb

Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 272010

Notes on Giv­ing an Account of One­self
Judith Butler

Who can I be given the regime of truth that deter­mines ontol­ogy for me?

Pol­i­tics of “the who” …the expo­sure and vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the other makes a pri­mary eth­i­cal claim upon me.

…life can­not be redeemed or extended through discourse…

The recog­ni­tion that one is, at every turn, not quite the same as how one presents one­self in the avail­able dis­course might imply, in turn, a cer­tain patience with oth­ers that would sus­pend the demand that they be self-​same at every moment.

”the universal…appears as some­thing vio­lent and extra­ne­ous and has no sub­stan­tial real­ity for human beings.” ~ Adorno

It may be that only through an expe­ri­ence of the other under con­di­tions of sus­pended judg­ment do we finally become capa­ble of an eth­i­cal reflec­tion in the human­ity of the other, even when that other has thought to anni­hi­late humanity.


I am that other who has thought to anni­hi­late humanity.


We can prob­a­bly say that moral ques­tions have always arisen when moral norms of behav­ior have ceased to be self-​evident and unques­tioned in the life of a community.”

Zer­set­zung : the destruc­tion of a com­mon and col­lec­tive ethos

Unlike Max Scheler, Adorno sees the col­lec­tive ethos as invari­ably a con­ser­v­a­tive one, which pos­tu­lates a false unity that attempts to sup­press the dif­fi­culty and dis­con­ti­nu­ity exist­ing within any con­tem­po­rary ethos. It is not that there was once a unity that sub­se­quently has come apart, only that there was once, an ide­al­iza­tion, indeed, a nation­al­ism, that is no longer cred­i­ble, and ought not be.

noth­ing is more degen­er­ate than the kind of ethics or moral­ity that sur­vives in the shape of col­lec­tive ideas even after the World Spirit has ceased to inhabit them — to use the Hegelian expres­sion as a kind of short­hand. Once the state of human con­scious­ness and the state of social forces of pro­duc­tion have aban­doned these col­lec­tive ideas, these ideas acquire repres­sive and vio­lent qualities.

because the col­lec­tive ethos is no longer shared — indeed, pre­cisely because the col­lec­tive ethos which must now be herded by quo­ta­tion marks, is not com­monly shared — it can impose its claim to com­mon­al­ity only through vio­lent means. In this sense, the col­lec­tive ethos instru­men­tal­izes vio­lence to main­tain the appear­ance of its col­lec­tiv­ity. More­over, this ethos becomes vio­lence only once it has become an anachro­nism. What is strange his­tor­i­cally — and tem­po­rally — about this form of eth­i­cal vio­lence is that although the col­lec­tive ethos has become anachro­nis­tic, it has not become past; it insists itself into the present as an anachronism.

con­ser­vatism in a nutshell

poetry. mine. the lonely mine.

the lonely mine

I move too slowly—
lead sort­ing sil­ver from mud-​clotting vein.
There isn’t a step in this quick-​flooding trench
I can’t drown.

Claw­ing through lay­ers of putre­fied bone,
fleshed from the half-​life,
cost­ing me now—

I breathe underwater.

Caught in this flash-​flood of past-​ward aching,
for­ward mind—
it cuts me in half.
It leaves me lonely.