Saturday, May 12, 2007

Desiring-Repression Prevents Rebirth, Renewal

I want to address this statement by Orla,

“It is true that we want a (Deleuzian?) "repetition with difference" or a philosophical re-activation of The Enlightenment, but I don't agree with your point that "we suspect in some way not terribly clear, that a key to this is to be found in understanding “ desiring of one’s own repression". The "new" Enlightenment must (in my humble opinion) come from a rebirth of secularism and a renewed Nietzschean critique of religious suppression.”

I stress that in addressing this statement I am not seeking to force a confrontation (with Orla or anyone else,) nor am I attempting to find or make a resolution ( with Orla or anyone else.) I believe that we have been able, at least so far, to work well following a "both/and" kind of logic.

In describing our discussion in my last post, I mentioned that we wanted a philosophical re-activation of the Enlightenment, but I didn’t remember to add that we have, so far, thought of the Enlightenment primarily in terms of an emphasis on autonomy and individuality – in terms of its actualization of (and I want to say democratization of,) “sapere aude.” We’ve also focused our criticism of the Enlightenment onto those areas where autonomy, individuality, and powers of thinking were hypocritical, fell short of its self-determined mark, and ended up blocking autonomy and individuality.

When we say we want a repetition of the Enlightenment, what it really means, I think, is that we want specifically to renew or reopen or create, or more fully criticize, practices of autonomy, individuality, and powers of thinking.

This intention then leads us ( or should lead us,) to ask this big question, expressed in one little word: how?

How are we to renew or reopen or recreate or more fully criticize autonomy and individuality and the powers (or limits of powers,) of thinking? How? How does one go about that? How, except as weird empty slogans, probably already signifying intellectual and imaginative impotence, are these words (renew,reopen, create, criticize) made to work and function ( as renewal,reopening,creating, etc.)? How does one “renew” an idea? How did it get “old” in the first place? How did it get closed? And why? I don’t think we know these things. We do not want to merely state to ourselves that we want this or that philosophical “effect,” (for example affirmation or renewal,) and then attribute that effect to what we like or inspires us or to trends we would wish to see encouraged and promoted in the contemporary political realm. I hope we can stop doing that.

If we wish to renew or reopen or reactivate philosophical enquiry, it must be we think that philosophical enquiry has grown old, closed, and deactivated. Deactivated – it must be that we think that philosophical enquiry no longer is able to respond actively. It must be, by the definition of ressentiment, (the inability to respond actively,) we hypothesize that a philosophical ethos became ressentimental.

Knowing how and why the philosophical ethos became ressentimental would be key to understanding how to reactivate a philosophical ethos.

Especially against the background of the medieval churchly practices of Europe, what gets called “secularization” could better be called a rescue or resuscitation of the ability to respond actively. Similarly, I believe the Nietzschean critique of religious suppression is best understood in terms of the conquest of reactive forces over active ones – how that happens, and the prospects, ever so rare and remote, for a future “becoming active.” So, while I agree with Orla when he says that the “new Enlightenment comes from a rebirth of secularism and a renewed Nietzschean critique of religious suppression,” I don’t see how the important questions of HOW WE GET REBIRTH OR RENEWAL are answered unless we walk along this path that the interrogation of “desiring one’s own repression” presents to us.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Yusef, for another inspiring post. I'll respond as soon as I can, especially about your statement, I don’t see how the important questions of HOW WE GET REBIRTH OR RENEWAL are answered unless we walk along this path that the interrogation of “desiring one’s own repression” presents to us.

All the best,

Orla

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thanks for hanging in there with me, Orla...

4:37 PM  

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