File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0108, message 3

Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 03:20:48 -0100
Subject: Re: marxist grand narrative - the return?

> >  As Julian Bond used to say, "Just because you stop beating your wife
> > doesn't mean you have to start beating your dog."
> Hugh,
> I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this saying, but I sure don't want
> you to feel beaten just because you feel you are being criticized.

Nothing personal.  Just an interesting remark.

> I wrote what I did, in part, because sometimes I feel criticized by you,
> in a number of ways.  It seems you want to privilege a natural,
> firsthand experience from a derivative secondhand experience and
> although I am not sure I understand what your distinction is or even how
> it can maintained in any meaningful nondualistic way, the implication
> seems to be that I am merely being derivative because I wish to discuss
> Lyotard and other writers while you are refreshed in the primal springs
> of your own inner being.  The question remains why is my experience any
> more secondhand than yours?

Of course it is not.  I think we all want to understand what Lyotard or
other writers meant by the words they wrote, but how do those words, how
does the idea fit your own learning, life-experience.  Do we agree,
disagree, is the idea true or false, and why.
Quoting another author on what L. said may or may not be appropriate.
Sometimes, from items posted, I get the impression its not what the author
wrote that counts, but merely the name and fame.

I try to avoid criticizing anyone. Most of us, at one time or another, have
differences of opinion and say so.

Each of us is a memory, a compendium of the events dreams, aspirations we
have experienced, and our reaction to the words of others is unique. I can
read what L. wrote, but I enjoy the List because I can pose a problem, ask a
get a response.

Scholars and engineers sending people into space, laboriously document the
source and characteristic of the materials they use.  This forum is
informal.  We are not risking lives or reputations, but we take reasonable
steps to be accurate in what we say.

Obviously we don't believe everything we read

> You also seem to make the accusation that philosophers are in this kind
> of ivory tower, isolated from the necessary political battles which you
> think need to be waged instead, merely pissing their time away.

Philosophers do their thing,   I think most teach to earn a living, but not
many are activists, perhaps do not have an activist personality. Rorty wrote
a book about his early years.  He was, if I remember his correctly, brought
up in an activist household, decades ago when Democrats were liberals.

> >From my standpoint, however, I see these philosophical discussions as
> part of the necessary political action that must be taken. As our own
> current discussion of Rorty shows, awareness itself is one of the
> political issues that needs to be addressed.

There's been awareness of Marxism for about a century and a half.  Hardt
is very aware of recent history and wants to know how do we make a

> Rorty's plan may be promising on paper, but it is somewhat on the order
> of the old story about pinning the bell on the cat.  Yes, it would be
> great if we could only do that.  Part of the political question, beyond
> all these principles and plans, is why haven't we?

Rorty was telling the "Left" it should take certain positions on
legislation, vote
for those who support those measures, and get others to do the same. Why
haven't they?  Apathy, but it doesn't matter.

In that role, Rorty was an activist, or layman with a political project, not
a philosopher.

> I am willing to call this a differend between us and leave it at that
> for now, if you want, but I do think this difference needs to be
> acknowledged.


> Anyway, referring back to your last post, how do you see the
> relationship between Rorty and Negri/Hardt?

On TV, Hardt described the book as a "Communist Book"  He is philosophizing.
Others have called it a new "manifesto".  He is more modest. Someone else
may come along eventually with plans, propose action.

>Do you think they have very  much in common with each other?  Do you tend
>to :lean :more to one party  than to the other?

They are talking about different subjects.  Scanning the "Empire" on-line,
seems to be an interesting and wide-ranging history of ideas about
capitalism and globalization, sovreignty, the nation-state and more. History
is one man's story, in this case two. A good interpretation.  There will be

In the meantime the good and bad effects of  the Empire will roll on.
There is such an awareness of o the bad effects, and all those
So much happened so fast. Almost like an avalanche or the eruption of  Mt.
Etna.  (Of course globalization is a man-made phenomenom).

 To use Rorty's terms, philosophers and historians are working on the
dynamics of all the preceding events, the "principles", not the "project" of

> I also plan on reading this book online until the real book is
published.Then I can
> read firsthand.

With a little practice, I find it easy to read on-line.  I continue to note
pages I want to revisit, and Acrobat enables you to find any phrase of the
book you search for, in an instant.

Thanks a lot, and I look forward to more discussion.



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