File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0110, message 18

Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 14:04:11 +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
fellow-travelers in our cities, victims of  the worship of wealth, the
glorification of
greed, the transfer of resources and power from ordinary people in ordinary
communities, to remote others.   The media-glorified "democracy", which is
plutocracy in sheep's clothing.

Diogenes 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.

Your arguments persuade that you are a Lyotardian, a Diogenian. and a
garden-variety ataraxian, but you don't seem to oppose local political
control, greater self-reliance and self-sufficiency....

> **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.and
appropriation -  you might say globalization.

- 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.

To 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 matter 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.

In your own mind, but how about the multitude?  And history, the stories we
tell each other about past events,  doesn't oppress - living humans oppress
other living humans.  I never favored Hegel or Marx when they took up the
cudgel of  "History".

> 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, reification of abstractions,
glorification of sacrosanct historians and philosophers - the cult of names.
Authors provide ideas.  Ultimately, we either reject or accept them, and, if
you truly accept an idea, in some degree, you become responsible, you own
However, future knowledge and  reflection sometimes revokes an

> 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
solutions; use history, 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 your 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 brings back philosophy:  "Be happy while you are alive".

Best regards,


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