Re: shoes, chairs, people

"I would use Heidegger as a point of departure rather than
Sartre." "OK, let's keep "thrownness"... "

Well, Tom, I get this gremlinesque urge to throw Sartre at you.

--- Throw away, I guess.

For departure, for instance: "human reality is nothing but an
undertaking." But it doesn't matter; I just thought that your own
"bent" toward the sociality of the peasant woman walking home in the
dusk, and thinking, as an example you had raised of what you were
saying, would have been more at home in the space opened
by Sartre, then outside the space you indicate is left closed by
Heidegger. I'm not building fan-clubs here.

--- Ok. I don't know much Sartre, and what I've read I've
forgotten a lot of. But what I've read has also predisposed
me to a bad mood concerning him.

But you ask, "how can we move out of the orbit
of the structure: "Heidegger says, Heidegger omits, Sartre
in contradistinction to Heidegger..." and *into*: Ok, let's ... etc."

and I wonder, are you really trying to construct "a philosophy" by
such cannibalizing -- like putting together old cars?

--- Derrida, who deserves consideration as a worthy enough
example of someone who proceeded in his thinking by
developing out of intense engagements with people like
Heidegger, speaks of the bricoleur (sp?). My example was to
highlight a particular problem concerning restriction, but
the progression I prefer does not amount to putting pieces
together. Such a procedure would be better described as
vivisection or the Frankenstien approach, rather than
cannibalism, IMHO.

I much prefer to look
at philosophy as an art form, and these texts as works of art. You
can't take a piece of a Mondrian out and put it in the middle of a
Kandinski, to finish it. But talking about the space Mondrian leaves
in is an endless and worthwhile discussion.

--- I really don't mean to suggest that you can either. But
if you are to pain your own painting, you can't live in
constant reference to the works of others; for Kandinski to
be Kandinski, the he has to be subordinated to the meaning
of color-forms, for example, and the same goes for
Heidegger, and for Nietzsche, for that matter. For
Heidegger, one has to keep one's sail trimmed to the wind,
which is, basically, the question of Being, of the Being of
beings. Or, Nietzsche says: Go your own way, and then you
will find me. Something like that. And any composer really
enters into an intimacy with the "thing it self" (in
itself?), the stuff of the chord, the tone (see Sessions
little book on music for a nice articulation of what is in
common for all musicions, IHHO, in his humble opnion). So
what I'm saying is that we need to get with the question of
being, not with the question of Heidegger. And, I guess to a
certain extent I would diverge from the "take philosophers
as artists program", but then, I don't take artists as
artists, either, or as sculpters.

But having said that, let me contradict it, or deconstruct it as a
question. There is the social, and the dialogue that we have, and the
multifacited discussions that go on. Ah, there, the art form paradigm
is already decentered. Let me approach it from a different point in
your last post.

--- Maybe it is, but I don't see it. Well maybe. Uh, Ok.
Yeah: you have put Being first, roughtly. Generally, I "go
with Heidegger" concerning a lot of questions of form,
comportment to the questions, and so forth, but I want to
add, change, mix, develop, etc. But, again, not as a mad
vivisectionist, a naive computer programmer, or, in truth,
even as a bricoleur, but as a thinker, with my sail trimmed
to the wind. As long as discussion centers around Heidegger,
a whole range is lost. And, interestingly, *most*
interestingly, and please not that it is Heidegger also who
sends this message again and again, part of what is lost in
the process is Heidegger.

You raise the question of a phenomenology of fear, or love, or
whatever. And there, I think I'll pull Sartre back from you.

--- I don't understand what you mean here. Should I call you
and ask you when I may again think about Sartre? Pardon my

I don't find a phenomenology of fear, or anxiety, or shame, or love in Sartre;

--- Maybe not. Slime, you find. Fear, love, maybe not.

I think those are the terms in which he couches his phenomenology of
the subject, and its relations to others. It is in this sense that the
structure of the account he gives of something like shame or anxiety is
more important than the content of the particular "issue", "event," or
"emotion" that he uses to build an account of that structure.

--- Sure, but again and again, perhaps the movement to
"structure", the divination of structure, is something to be
questioned. I think, incidentally, Derrida says something to
this effect, in, I think, Spurs.

(I put
quotes on all those words because it is unclear which discourse, or
discipline, they are being used in in this dialogue I am having with
you). I guess if carried to its logical conclusion, this kind of
reading of Sartre would have to conclude that there is no binarism in
his ontology, in the same way one would say there was none in Heidegger
(except that between the transcendental signifier and the rest of the
discourse). I'll let you ask me about Being-in-itself, if that
presents a problem in my last sentence.

--- Er, what about being-in-itself? Does this parallel
Heidegger's "physis"/phusis, something like that. I'm being
a bad scholar. Also, in Totality and Infinity, there is a
certain identification of this same "physis", in some way.

I have to admit that I find it amusing that in the current time,
so much discussion dead-ends about the question of the social, social
relations, an ontology of the social, and an ethics, while many who
end up thus deadended can only fulminate, to the point of obviating
any possibility of a critique, when confronted with a particular
thinker who spent a lot of time addressing just such questions.

--- Are you addressing me? I'm not fulminating. But this
problem is there. Heidegger speaks eloquently against such
fulmination, all over the place, and in favor of a humility,
not before the thinker, but before the question.

Well, okay, what about the social? Should we pick a piece out of
Heidegger, and put it in the middle of Levinas, so as to complete that
latter canvas. Does Sartre's ethics provide us with more of a
"how-to-book" than BT (as Michael alludes)?

--- Please.

--- And, please note: without this crude approach, you do
indeed find a little bit o' Heidegger in Sartre, in Levinas,

I don't think we can do
that either. But just as sartre uses certain issues as the content of
his narrativizations, the terms by which he builds, sculpts his
ontology (yes, I think philosophy is really a form of sculpture,
rather than painting), we use the literature at hand as a way of
speaking about the social, the terms one can use, the moments of a
dialogue that is going to be about its own subject -- not regardless of
the terms used, but not in obedience to those terms either. In other words,
I would think one engages in critique not in an eclectic, or
cannibalistic manner, but as a mode of dialogue, as the language of a

--- It is no longer clear who you are talking to, though I
attribute this to the interlogue format of these postings
and just say: we need to go back and forth more before
making broader sketches of the overall scene. For me,
critique, "cannibalism", bricoleurship, mix'n'match
contruction, *dialogue*, words, terms *all* are decentered
or revolve around something else. This "something else" may
be something about which "we must remain silent", but I
refer to this as "the positivities", and generally view most
of the textual worlds we are taking about as being in a
particular kind of alienation to these "positivities." These
positivies Heidegger might understand as Being, but I don't
know that I would take that tack.

that is, besides the non-contestation that occurs when I mention that
your reading of the peasant woman's walk home at dusk steps outside
the space Heidegger had reserved for her, as unthinking in order to
give authenticity to her shoes, and can be spoken of more harmoniously
within a Sartrean discourse -- besides that, what else happens?

--- I do contest it. I have serious doubts that the Sartrean
discourse can deal with the shoes. And the shoes, let us not
forget, are from a painting by Van Gogh. I think that
Sartre's language just is not adequate, that he doesn't get
with the essential meaning of "phemes", of genetic word
roots enough. In Heidegger, to say "reality" invokes the
"res", while I'm not sure that that happens in Sartre, for
example. When you get thorugh this
etymologyical/geneaological gesture, it takes you somewhere.
The path to this somewhere is not possible by keeping in
contact with Heidegger mainly, but by keeping with the
question, by thinking. But the etymological/geneaological
(sp?) gesture is *just one of many*, and I feel that
Heidegger has infinitely more to teach me. But, if I am to
raise the question of "the social" (which may not be a good
formulation, but it will do for the time being), again and
again, Heidegger will be of little help as long as oriented
to Heidegger. The general formulation I use here is that one
must not look to one's heros/teachers, but to that to which
one's heros/teachers look. Incidentally, I can say that
Heidegger is a kind of "hero" of thinking for me. But,
anways, I don't feel I have been moved one bit from my
central position here: that for me to think the social, i
must be able to get out of the orbit of the name of
Heidegger in certain essential ways. This getting out does
not involve cannibalism. The movement to regard it as such
is something to be questioned, not only in you, but in
Heidegger, because I find the force of his personality and
the invocational authorizations (he invokes "the whole
tradition, and so well, so how can you differ from him"). In
this regard, there is a general question of influence, of
the philosophical father, etc. Derrida comes closer to
anyone I know here, as, for example, his perspicuous
engagment with his relation to Foucault in the beginning of
the Cogito and the History of Madness.




"It is only after one ceases to reduce public affairs to the business of
dominion that the original data in the realm of human affairs will appear, or,
rather, reappear, in their authentic diversity." -- Hannah Arendt

Crises of the Republic; lying in politics, civil disobedience on violence,
thoughts on politics, and revolution. Hannah Arendt [1st ed.] New York,
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich [1972] pages 142-143

Tom Blancato
[email protected]
Eyes on Violence (nonviolence and human rights monitoring in Haiti)
Thoughtaction Collective (reparative justice project)
521 Main Street
PO Box 495
Harmony PA 16037

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