Deleuze’s Boyhood Crush: Spinoza
On to Deleuze’s Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. I have never read anything Deleuze; all I do know—and its sum decreases each day—is that the Frenchie is cited in every circle I stumble into like a drunk showing up late for a wedding. Required reading. He’s one of those citable guys who has to nestle somewhere among the brain’s wirings to even begin a conversation. Or so it seems to go.
I’ve been fond of Spinoza since taking a college course years ago, more for the Tractatus than the Ethics at the time. But it’s the life of Spinoza, the life of a philosopher that’s so attractive, in the same way I’m drawn to the literary figure of Diogenes the same way the flies were to his smell.
Hunched over, breathing air sparkling with glass shards, and creating a philosophy of joy despite being a pariah by the community at large. What a life! It’s not the ascetic that’s admirable but the courageous commitment, to exhaust one’s energies in a total pursuit.
There is, then, a philosophy of “life” in Spinoza; it consists precisely in denouncing all that separates us from life, all these transcendent values that are turned against life, these values that are tied to the conditions and illusions of consciousness. Life is poisoned by the categories of Good and Evil, of blame and merit, of sin and redemption. What poisons life is hatred, including the hatred that is turned back against oneself in the form of guilt.
Deleuze’s work reads is the philosophical equivalent of a grade school I like you do you like me letter? Well worth finding if you’ve ever been charmed by Spinoza.
Continuing on my way to Tartarus I stumbled upon Steven Shaviro’s essay, “Whitehead on Causality and Perception:” emphasizing Whitehead’s openness to error and how it leads to his own understanding of causality. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Considering the Principia Mathematica may be the largest philosophical blunder of the early 20th Century thanks to the young apocalyptic horseman Kurt Gödel.
For Whitehead, according to Shaviro (because my copy of Process and Reality remains minty fresh), causality is in bed with perception. By virtue of perception, causality is. Fun sentence eh? No need for the transcendent; no need to fall back on the happy coincidences of correlation. Now I’m not explaining much here because I’ve read the PDF once and it takes more than one lick to seal an envelope.
For the mainstream of modern Western philosophy, causality is an example of a relation that must be put into doubt, because it is supposedly not given in perception. Whitehead counters this by showing that causality is not just an abstract condition for perceptive experience (which Kant had argued already), but is also an actually given component of experience. Causal efficacy is in fact directly experienced, even though this direct experience is not necessarily Conscious.
Time to break the spine of my Whitehead.
The Way City Government Should/Could/Ought? Be
And this time the best is saved for last…
In the quiet village of Carpentersville, Illinois the greatest board of meeting of all time took place on April 1, 2008. An epic battle between municipal powers that shook the sawdust-choked earth and chucked storms across the land. Former village president Bill Sarto refuses to abandon his motion. He DEMANDS somebody second his proposal, and will filibuster the hell out of the locals until he gets what he wants. What follows is the best YouTube video I watched on Monday.
American government is rarely exciting, nothing like British parliament (the saving grace of CSPAN). But when civility wanes and tensions flare it’s the reality TV we deserve—woe to Baudrillard.
From my representatives I want to see passions fly, collide… rage against the dying of their motion. Sarto below ends up reaching for any insult he can muster to get his way like a spoiled child on Dr. Phil—and it’s glorious: