File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 17

Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 13:23:06 +1100
Subject: Re: You ain't nothing but a hound dog

Yeah, I come from Elvis country - but not on a leash.

> I certainly meant cynic in a good sense.

> Here is what my EB says about them. "The originator of the sect was
> Diogenes who in the second half the 4th century B.C. set about exposing
> current conventions as false coinage.  It was his object to get back to
> the "natural" life which he saw as identical with the simple life.
> Ideally this would mean the disappearance not only of luxuries but also
> of organized communities, whose laws and customs must be accounted
> "conventional."  He himself lived as a vagabond pauper, sleeping in
> public buildings and begging his food.  This was not a life that all men
> could be desired to lead or that was led by all Cynics:  Diogenes'
> object was to give an extreme example of how one could be happy and
> independent, although absolutely destitute."

If he showed up today he would find hundreds of thousands of
in our cities, victims of  the worship of wealth, the glorification of
greed, the transfer of resources and power from communities remote others.
He would be at home with the homeless.

> Well, in the sense we are discussing here, simply "natural"
> self-interest, uncorrupted by the conventional norms.  The arguments you
> consistently make for local political control can certainly be
> interpreted as cynical arguments for greater self-reliance and
> self-sufficiency.

You could be a Lyotardian and a Diogenian......

> **I don't think history has any good recipes for solving the crisis.  I
> agree with the columnist who says we act as if everything is o.k. but we
> don't believe it.
> Exactly, because as a cynic you believe history is merely another norm
> or convention which is given to us to blindly follow

History is an idea in living minds which is often used by politcians to
advance the objectives of those who finance their careers. History
(someone's story of an event or events) is continually re-written, to fit
objectives such as commercial/financial /military conquest. you could say

- the phrase "we > act as if everything is o.k. but we don't believe it"
seems like a
> perfect case of the "enlightened false consciousness" to me.

For you, but probably not to Anna Quindlen, who wrote the editorial for
She expressed the emotional perturbation  many of  us have felt since 9/11.
It's a case of whistling in the dark, but we'll recover.

> **There is a crisis, there is action, hope it achieves its purpose, but
> doubtful. Will reading philosophy help?  If so, please explain.
> I think the answer is clear.  Reading philosophy is of value because
> recognizing its contradictions puts an end to the useless conventions of
> idealism.

For you, but how about the world's democratic masses, Hardt and Negri's

 > Reading history is of value because recognizing its
> oppression puts an end to the useless conventions of idealism.

Ditto the above

> The function of both is negative and its end result is to produce the
> "enlightened false consciousness" which breaks with convention. Thus you
> study philosophy and history in order to refute it.

You do. No one changes the past event by writing a new narrative.
> **Yes.  But count the terrorist killings in repeated incidents, decide
> if you want to invite more killings. Call it postmodern or historic, or
> modern or epic, whatever.
> I am calling it cynicism and I think that is exactly what you are
> arguing for.

Be my guest, but I resist "isms", labels, reifications of abstractions,
glorification of sacrosanct historians and philosophers, the cult of names.

> because of what you see as its negative connotations.  What I am saying
> is I don't necessarily see it as negative and cynicism today seems to me
> to be a perfectly valid philosophical position, so I encourage you to
> acknowledge this is really your stance and go for it.

Let's be pragmatic, look to the future, define problems and possible
use history or philosophy, dreams, imagination unlimited.

> However, as an Epicurean, I do have certain disagreements, but I will
> save these for another post.  For the present, Hugh, I just want to
> raise this question with you again.  Would you agree with me that your
> philosophy is a variation of cynicism in the best possible sense of this
> term?

I'm  always trying to find out what my philosphy is, and value the opinion
of  yourself
and others who try to put their philosophy in words for the rest of us.

> >From the garden of ataraxia,

How does this garden grow?

The best Webster could do was ataraxic, and "tranquilzer" which yielded

2 : a drug used to reduce mental disturbance (as anxiety and tension)

Which reminds me of philosophy:  "Be happy while you are alive".

Best regards,


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