File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0111, message 100

Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2001 17:02:27 +0000
Subject: Re: Ataraxia

Eric and all

>What I mean by that is the following. Beyond all the dogma, myth,
>illusion and superstition of religion, its core values are situated
>around an understanding of happiness that goes beyond social conventions
>by various names such as Satori, Enlightenment, Self-Realization, the
>Kingdom of Heaven, Paradise, Atman, etc.  
And there I was thinking that religion and the superstitious belief in 
god was about human beings relationship to death and the awfulness of 
existence and all the time it was about 'happiness' - it's core values 
are situated around sacrifice and death not around happiness. The growth 
of religion and superstition in the USA is surely founded on the 
complete lack of what I hesitate to call humane social responses in the 
US society. One of the things I find most shocking about the USA. on my 
all to frequent visits, is the aggression and violence that is evidenced 
in the terrible social repression and the endless fear of the Other... 
Patriotism and the flag are being used to justify the kind of 
post-modern colonial activity which is completely unacceptable.

>What religion offers at its core is something, as Castoriadis and others
>have pointed out, politics alone can't give us.  A just society would
>merely set up the conditions for happiness, autonomy and
>self-fulfillment.  The rest would still be up to us as individuals to
>create within our own lives. 
The last sentence does not need the first - a just society would 
inevitably lead to the ongoing death of god(s). This is inevitable 
because a utopian society would be a materialistic society in the best 
sense of the phrase.

Perhaps we have a choice - to retain the 'something' that Castoriadis 
refers to with its extraordinary history, or to discard the religious 
metaphors and recognise the sheer insignificance of the human species.

>In the wake of 911, it has become obvious that our reliance, not just on
>foreign oil but on oil in general, makes America act in ways that are
>conducive to continued terrorism.  There is a need to maintain a great
>strategic empire that assures our access to cheap and abundant oil. 
>Since there is simply not enough oil available to support this level of
>civilization on a global level, it creates a tiered society in which
>some remain rich while others remain poor and violence becomes necessary
>to maintain those divisions, just as the resentment of the poor and
>dispossessed discover their own violence in terrorist forms to contest
>this arbitrary hegemony of power.
In the 19th C the British subjects of the 'British Empire' did not 
challenge the empire at home for anti-imperialist reasons - they 
challenged it for the specific local reasons. The colonised had to 
struggle for themselves - just as radicals from Ghana were active 
participants at Genoa...

>To break this cycle, the only way out ultimately that I can see would be
>if a new movement in the industrialized centers of the world made an
>exodus from wasteful consumption and careerism towards a simpler mode of
>living in which the basic transaction would be more free time and less
>things.  The motivation to create such a movement would probably need to
>come from something like what I have been calling Epicureanism.  
>It would be a metaphysical break within Occidental culture.  It would no
>longer be a question of following your bliss, that dream of Ulysses that
>invented the West. Instead, it would be a question of living from bliss,
>the dream of Orpheus, that alien god for whom song is existence and who
>still haunts the West.  
>Socially and politically, it would mean the creation of institutions
>that limit the need for the experience of pain in the body and anxiety
>in the mind.  It would recognize that the only way to ultimately combat
>terrorism is to deal with it is at its root.  And this root is the
>terror that lies within the human heart, coiled like a serpent.  This
>ultimate form of terrorism can only be overcome by ataraxia, the peace
>and joy that passes understanding.
economics lies at the heart of terrorism not the human heart...




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