An Attempt at Self Description: 2019 Edition

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If I haven't, as of yet, laid my views out neatly and coherently into a system I subscribe to, it is perhaps because I find the ideas I subscribe to somewhat disparate in relation to one another. But this isn't to say that they're incompatible; just that I haven't spent a lot of time, until now, trying to locate my own position.

Often, one's ideas come as some kind of package deal with a whole world order attached. It's supposed that one should not only have a personal orientation, but that this orientation has or should have universal implications. I see this as a problem in which irony must play a great deal if I’m to proceed. Every person in the entire world who has anything to say about the world has a private vision as to how everyone else should live their lives. Basing one’s present on an untenable future is a strange way to go about thinking of one’s life and how one relates to the world.

With that said, I make no bones about the fact that any system or ism I might subscribe to is mostly a matter of taste. I tend to approach philosophy and politics as though they were little more than genres of literature. In that sense, I am interested mainly in ideas, acknowledging full well that ideas can change everything, but knowing that they also press up against their limits quite quickly. I offer here, not a system or a creed, but a series of lenses through which things currently seem and make sense to me.

Philosophical Lense

It's more Taoist/Hericlitean as time goes by. Everything is in flux. The movement determines the central point or function. Betting on impermanence is the only safe wager, but this anticipation can guide one toward the stillness of a lucid position - not just metaphysically, but discursively too. i believe Cioran called Hegel a Heraclitus who’d read Kant? I’d agree.

Ancient thinkers who inspire this position:

Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Heraclitus, Asaya

Modern thinkers who inspire this position: Novalis, Nietzsche, Stirner, Michelstaedter, Heidegger.

Tao/Brahma/One > Will to power > Will to life > Survival

(An incredibly crude hierarchy)

Survival = minimum agency

Flourishing = medium agency

Exploiting surplus of potential (Realization of Tao/Brahma/One) = maximum agency

I oscillate between valuing Stoicism (eudomania) and Epicureanism (ataraxia). You can’t be all right all of the time, but some of us can be half right half of the time.

Anti-eschatological: the world has basically been ending since the dawn of man. I’m not holding my breath (Neo-Pessimism).

Political Lense

A 'post-left' view of social relations, sort of like Bob Black's 'post-left anarchism,' but without the anarchism part - sovereignty is unavoidable, even if we don't know what it is, exactly.

An appreciation for tribal abundance-creation, bartering, gift and mutual aid economies, as well as technological innovation. The possibility of culture having a harmonious relationship with its economy, which causes the line between left and right to blur.

Inspirations in this regard: Marcel Mauss, Georges Bataille, Bob Black.

The economy is undeniably about desire, not just necessity.

Inspirations in this regard: Charles Fourier, Pierre Klossowski, the Situationist International.

Skeptical of democracy, save in very small, localized contexts or times of great crises and confusion (not a sustainable model but a contingency plan).

Left and right in America as useful distinctions on a local level - as a proxy for tribe sentiment, but lose their meaning when scaled out to the level of geopolitics. At the geopolitical level, we deal with how empires deploy violence - an inescapable, ubiquitous phenomenon.

The need for a global vision counter to globalism - a politics which understands sovereignty as a dynamic or plural phenomenon.

Skepticism toward the values responsible for the notion of capital. The modern economy as a plastic invention.

Skepticism of the 'free market.' Not that it's a bad idea, but that it's just a fantasy that doesn't or couldn't exist - something governs the market by definition.

A conviction that Anarcho-capitalism is actually a form of socialism, sort of like this guy says.

Skepticism toward the distinction between 'big' and 'small' government, as the government is a network of entities whose disparate parts could be centralized or decentralized to varying degrees, suitable to the intended whole. The whole point is that liberties are augmented by certain types of centralization while certain types of decentralization create checks and balances.

Skeptical that hierarchy and equality are mutually exclusive. Equality establishes itself horizontally in codified hierarchies and hierarchies organically establish themselves in collective units which emphasize solidarity.

In the past I have used 'Radical Centrism' and 'Peripheralism' to describe my views, though I could also say 'Post-Leftism' - which I would distinguish as drawing inspiration from the Situationist International, the secret society Acephale, the Italian Autonomists, the Stirnerite-Marxist group 'For Ourselves,' The College of Sociology, Deleuze and other weird post-capitalists that didn't fit in anywhere very neatly. On the right side of the spectrum, there are select figures among the Conservative Revolutionaries I find interesting, like Ernst Junger and Oswald Spangler. The French Non-conformists are of interest too. However, even these don’t fit snugly into the right, just as the previous mentioned figures and groups didn’t fit snugly into the left.

I’m interested, not in synthesizing left and right per se, but rather in excluded middles. No all-encompassing term is adequate though.

There is a phrase Novalis used which I quite like: 'Mystical Republican.' It suggests that power is an invisible presence. Force is a very low, vulgar form of power which reveals impotence more than persuasion.

Ultimately, there is no binding motif by which we can recognize the unquestionable sovereignty of any one political system. Therefore I would prefer to treat political situations like Stirner's Unique or Junger's Anarch - things to be appropriated as my property only insofar as I need them - a sort of Bruce Lee Jeet Kune Do approach to politics. (This is not an anarchistic attitude, but rather, an inescapably pragmatic one, I would hope).

Religious Lense

An arguably postmodern or ' post-postmodern' view of identity as a positive confrontation with destructive nihilism.

The possibility of the return of the sacred through the reconfiguration of the divine in modernity by way of the liberation of the subject through an awareness of the production of/realization of agency (its highest point being sovereignty).

Inspirations in this regard: Rene Girard, Gianni Vattimo, Roberto Calasso, Simone Weil, Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, Heidegger, Holderlin, Novalis, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Hegel, Derrida, Deleuze, Michelstaedter, Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski, Roberto Bazlen, Rilke, Goethe.

Nihilism as a tool for seeking truth - nihilism not as the negation of truth but the 'truth of negation,' per Ray Brassier. Value as something which appears ex nihilo.

There's a hierarchy to the way we can even talk about religion and spirituality. The philosophical is augmented and actualized in the metaphysical. The metaphysical is poeticized in the theological. Mythology flits in and out of these mediums in all kinds of strange and beautiful configurations.

Materialism and secular humanism are simply the most recent myths and are insufficient on their own (just as any myth is).

I sometimes tongue in cheekly refer to myself as a non-spiritual person who nevertheless believes in 'the divine,' paradoxically.

Artistic and Cultural Lense

An appreciation for the avant-garde. A hope to bring experimentation into classical forms in a nuanced way, and likewise, formality to experimentation (in my own fiction, that is).

I'm developing on my own working theory which involves blurring the line between fiction and nonfiction, life and art, irony and authenticity, satire and adulation, individuality and collective solidarity, originality and homage.

Honestly, I’m a sucker for style and will admire a thinker or writer more if s/he can say something in an interesting way than one who can argue well; but I suppose there are some philosophical reasons I allow this for myself which I won’t get in to here.

I’m a fan of Hip-Hop, Heavy Metal, and a lot of music that humble folks might call Hipster-y.

I know very little about classical music. Wagner grates on my nerves. I don’t care if he’s a genius. Give me Beethoven and Mussorgsky and call it good. Bach is dope too.

I hate Punk (except for The Misfits) and Classic Rock (except for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and a few others).

I hate The Beatles.

Most stand-up comedy makes me cringe - even stuff I used to watch and like. But when it wasn’t ruined by repeats, I liked Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Sam Kennison, Doug Stanhope, Stephen Fry and Peter Cook.

I don’t understand people who claim to hate irony. This seems like an incredibly modern phenomenon I really don’t know what to make of. I’ve heard people refer to it as ‘insecure,’ ‘defensive,’ ‘insincere.’ I say, that’s okay. We didn’t want you in the irony club anyway.

Social Lense

I tend to avoid talking about current events and have taken a lot of things I wrote about current events of the past down from this site, as I feel that they weren't the best representations of my work and weren't approaching the world in a sober, pragmatic way. These days, I find it difficult to care about trending outrage, no matter what it is. It can be as simple as a misunderstood video that has gone viral or a city-crippling riot. If it still seems important in five months, perhaps I'll write about it then. Until then, the situation doesn't need me. I'm willfully apathetic and callous. I'd urge one to try it for a bit. It's great.

In the same way some would describe themselves as 'not religious but spiritual' I would describe myself as 'not political but social.' I understand the ontological reality of politics (I'll refrain from saying 'the need for government') though I am apprehensive about the current system. Nevertheless I understand that one has to work within it, so as not to live in a fantasy, hoping for an apocalypse that never comes.

I like and get along with all kinds of people. I know most people think they are open minded but have unchecked prejudices and biases. I suppose I would be no different, though my intention is to always gain more self awareness. I don't view the world the same way I did five years ago.

I think the argument is not up on how best to achieve 'freedom,' and this means different things in different contexts. No one has a monopoly on its meaning, or even on how it is best achieved in each polity, or likewise that it can be taken in the same way from different people. Perhaps a better word than freedom would be autonomy? Sovereignty? I don’t think this is a radical notion, but an inevitability of politics in our times.

 

There you have it. It's hardly all defining but why would that be desirable anyway?