Globes, by Peter Sloterdijk – Conversation 2 [1/11]


(douglas duff) #21

I believe podcasts and similar kin are the only verbals spaces we have here in the states (which of course is received globally and created from all areas of the globe). These are slowing creeping into the public eye, open to all walks of life (sorry old, white guys)… but to have a nationally syndicated conversation on public television, to have a universal “visual” is unheard of here and may be impossible as we switch to AppleTVs and AmazonPrime video or whatever these young ones are using these days. I think though, the deeper conversations will come into the public sphere if we keep up the good work seen in smaller groups/podcasts and fuse together.


(T J Williams) #22

Very interesting articles, thank you, Jamie. My appreciation of Spheres has lately been going in a separate direction from my assessment of Sloterdijk, if you know what I mean…

Even though Spheres was written prior to 2001, certainly the “clash of civilizations” thesis goes back to Samuel P Huntington’s reply to Fukuyama in 1993: not only was history in no way over, it had not even been ‘resolved’ in favor of Western values which could safely be considered ‘universal’. Au fond, Huntington championed a world where each civilization had (and kept to) its own space. And then of course, in some circles, his thesis went from interesting to I-told-you-so after 9/11.

It gives the passage I quoted last night that struck others as well an uncanny sense of foreshadowing. I repeat, with my own bracketed comments:
“The distinction between forms of peace [‘exclusive’ and ‘inclusive’] set off the true world-war: the world-historical struggle over the antithesis between power (rootedness, assertion, apparatus and culture) and spirit (uprooting, resistance, anarchy and art). If there were an ‘end of history’, one would notice it in the expiry of these oppositions.” (Vol II, p. 186)
I am paying close attention to what Sloterdijk thinks of Spengler, who ultimately had no use for the phase of Zivilisation which he considered the effective uprooting and repudiation of the traditional Kultur he loved so much - and came increasingly to see in ‘exclusive’ terms. It would appear that whatever interest Sloterdijk may have had in “the expiry of these oppositions” did not survive. It adds another dimension to my reading.

(Aside: There is much here indeed. Sociologist Vytautus Kavolis wrote a short article in Comparative Civilizations Review (Vol 17; 1987) named “History of Consciousness and Civilization Analysis” in which he argued that historians of consciousness examine the “intensification of experience” and “how energies project and dissolve structures” while civilization analysts study “responsibility concerns” and “how structures contain and emanate energies”. Kavolis does not mention Gebser or Spengler in this article, but I’m considering a project comparing and contrasting just these two thinkers because they broadly and beautifully illustrate his respective points. Kavolis’ ultimate aim was to show how a true understanding of the human past required both approaches. (Would this, Hester, be another example of the post-dialectical?) As we all know, lines of thought which take cultural rootedness and artistic creativity as complementary are different from those which see them in fundamental opposition.)

Thoughts of a less groggy TJ… :smile:


(Ed Mahood) #23

The strongest form of “considering” is “doing”. On with it, sir!


(Ed Mahood) #24

As any Hermeneutiker (good or otherwise) will tell you, this is actually the aim of reading anything at all … at least at first. The interaction between author and reader is multifaceted, to be sure, but any close reading has to at least start with (1) getting anything-that-is-you-that-might-get-in-the-way out of the way and (2) getting any notions-about-the-author-you-might-have out of the way as well. Some of us have loads of baggage in both regards that we need to leave on the sidelines. Others have less baggage, but it still has to be left aside. It’s never easy, and it’s not always successful. Once you have an idea what the author is saying, you can start thinking about if and whether he’s saying it to you, and you can also start thinking about what others might think about what they think they are saying. That is never easy, and neither is it always successful. Sometimes you have to start again. But if there’s more resulting from the process than the effort to pursue the process, then why not do just that?

I, for example, wasn’t getting enough out for what I perceived to be putting in. Your mileage may vary. Cruise on.


(john davis) #25

I recall the Mexican poet, Octavio Paz, said that when we read a past civilization, it is not their economic theories, but their poetry that will be most the illuminating. It is from shared interiority that people make sense together, and in primarily oral cultures, this poetic performance was vitally important. It is interesting to me that the Greeks presented theater festivals where attendance was mandatory for all citizens, and the rich would have to donate funds for the poor, so that they could participate. Politics was a performance art then and now. If Oprah runs for president I think we will see theater making on a grand scale! A debate between her and Trump would be a sell out!

It would be difficult to imagine history without poetry, for the artists intentionally intensify experience. This is probably why Plato ( and most totalitarian regimes) want to kick out the poets. They derange the senses!

I do think Dionysian and Apollonian tensions are in all of us. I think Sloterdiik is a pseudo-Appollinan, his detached coolness, is a sly magician trick. His dense prose hides this double bind, which is probably why we persevere in trying to see if he will ever take off the mask.


(john davis) #26

I recall that theory comes out of theoria, a Greek practice, of having a person travel to different theater festivals who reported back to his home city on what other cities were performing. Theory emerges out of these comparative practices.

Those who claim that AI will surpass human intelligence have not read Euripides. No algorithm could pull off those plays, which remain, even now, mind boggling achievements.


(T J Williams) #27

You’re absolutely right. I actually have an outline!

Edit: And Happy Anniversary, part-time curmudgeon and full-time esteemed thinker!


(T J Williams) #28

There is a reason why historical fiction - or mythic narrative interpretation ‘agreed upon’ - will always outsell academic, “scientific” history.

Agreed. Though his prose ironically strikes me as more Dionysian than dense. Sometimes I wonder if he sees it himself.

O…M…G…! (LOL)


(Marco V Morelli) #29

I feel this too about Sloterdijk—he is not a lifelong friend or ally. He is someone who has ‘caught the ball’ of Western metaphysics, and has a particular talent (or magical ability) for making it dance, glow and sing. Of course, some can hear the music, and some can’t; and some who hear the music don’t like it. Or think they hear dog whistles in it; whereas it seems that when Sloterdjik wants to blow a whistle, he goes right ahead and does it.

I am very glad you are reading Spheres with a feeling for the poetry of it. I also think that the dialectical and political issues stemming from Sloterdijk’s philosophy, which strike me as confused at best (sadly, recapitulating Heidegger’s crypto-elitism), could be resolved from a metamodern level of analysis. I think we can read the politics with the appropriate tools; the philosophy with other tools; and the poetry just like you’ve done, @Douggins, with our heart(h)s.


(Geoffrey Edwards) #30

Paz is another of those writers I treasure (like Bachelard and Michaux) - these all write “off the edge” of the intellect, in the place where things that cannot be said are nonetheless revealed, through elliptical writing (such as poetry). It’s also why I think that the discourse here MUST be also poetic, literary and artistic as well as intellectual, argumentative, discursive.

There is currently a great deal of interest in the “performative” art world to use modern technologies to re-introduce Greek “agora-like” encounters that engage the public in much more demanding ways than has been done for the past half century or more.

I agree that Sloterdijk is more a “fellow traveller” or even a “brief encounter” than someone one really wants to invest in over the long term. His apparent affinities to right wing and even fascist lines of thought is troubling at best, and follows directly in the intellectual heritage of Heidegger. Can we easily separate out that part of his thinking that is not “tinged” with the absolutes that lead to fascist or other intellectual lines of argument? I have been reading feminist writers who are picking apart the philosophical “canon” (Plato, Hobbes, Locke, etc. right up to the moderns) to pick out parts of their thought that can be drawn on within feminist arguments - they also question to what extent this is even possible. Must an intellectual argument be taken as a whole or can it be picked apart, you take what you want and leave the rest? We do that personally, but if one wants to be rigorous from a philosophical point of view, it is tricky.

Just rambling on…


(Geoffrey Edwards) #31

By the way it was great to have you in the conversation, Jamie - your insights are valuable and highly complementary to the rest of the chaotic mix! Much appreciated.


(Heather Fester) #32

Thanks for the question, @madrush. I will say more soon, but wanted to briefly say that I read (and posted–including the same quote) the Becoming Integral blog. And, I’m remembering (was it your comment?) a comment on moving towards centrism. I think that same blog we both found makes a gesture toward that with the Silver age. I find myself wondering what he’s up to with his reading of history and politics (and rhetoric, too, apparently). Bruce Alderman has listed You Must Change Your Life as one of the first two books on his FIRS booklist (https://www.integralreligion.org/reading-list).

Blog post referenced above: https://becomingintegral.com/2017/04/17/is-sloterdijk-conservative/

Will give more thought to your question. Was a truly engaging conversation the other night, and I’m grateful to you for creating that space and the others for throwing their spheropoe(i)tics in the ring.


(Heather Fester) #33

I love these words of yours, Geoffrey, and resonate with them. (Do you ever go by Geoff? I keep wanting to use that name.) Part of me wants to replace your word “elliptical” with “auto-poeitic” maybe. How does that feel for you? I wonder how you’re using elliptical too and would love to hear more from you about that word choice. I also wonder if you might possibly mean elliptical (and imagine not, but maybe it will fit in retrospect) in the sense of Gendlin’s (…) [intricacy that is carried forward into words], as described here: https://www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2228.html.

This reminds me of my favorite way of grokking onto-poetics (h/t to Freya Mathews for that term), which comes from one of Heidegger’s poems in a section of his book entitled “Thinker as Poet”: “The poetry that thinks is, in truth, the topology of being.” [Looked up the fuller quote: In “The Thinker as Poet,” Heidegger writes, “But poetry that thinks is in truth / the topology of Being. / This topology tells Being the / whereabouts of its actual presence” (12). from Heidegger, Martin. “The Thinker as Poet.” Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper Collins Perennial Classics, 1971. 12.]

Well, finishing your post above, I see that you likened Sloterdijk to Heidegger. It does get sticky with politics and thinkers. For me, this is still an open question on Sloterdijk. I don’t think we can assign him blame based on who likes to read him (including Nazis, as Jamie shared). The book is shut on Heidegger, yet I’ve talked to quite a few Heideggerian scholars about the tension of that history in their work, and I’ve gotten some interesting responses. Can a philosopher’s ideas be separated from the philosopher’s politics? I really have to wonder about that.

I like to consider what it means for a poet to be a thinker. I don’t integrate well into either community, but less so into the thinker community than the poet set, so poet as thinker is more my orienting direction.

Maurice Blanchot could easily join your list too perhaps. And Bataille. I haven’t read Jean-Luc Nancy. Somehow for me, Blanchot reaches more of the 4D poetics (Being-logic-honing/onto-poetic, heart-tending, time-freeness) than Derrida. Clarice Lispector (Brazilian prose writer, ex-pat from the Ukraine) also achieves the 4D space in her writing–interested in that too. For me, Sloterdijk flirts with it, but doesn’t quite get the rigor with his poetic lines that Bachelard was able to. For Sloterdijk, it feels more like a ruse or trick (or a half-hearted performance) as I read him than the core of his question unfolding on the page.

[Here is more about what I referenced re: Derrida and community from an old FB post (@madrush might enjoy this too) : “The importance of ‘distance within’ friendship situates Derrida, following Nietzsche, in a disjunctive tradition of conceiving a ‘community of those without community’ developed by Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, and Jean-Luc Nancy. Neitzsche’s “Among Friends,” the epilogue to Human, All Too Human, imagines the book’s reception by a group of friends in a pastoral setting outside time and history, united by a deep longing for the moment when ‘we reach the grave together.’ Their silent contract is a ‘tacit agreement’ to come together without surrendering solitude. If [Hannah] Arendt’s friendship is foundationally discursive, living and building a public realm on dialogue, Derrida’s friends ‘ally themselves in silence within the necessity to keep silent’ in order to maintain the relationship in the face of the truth of its instability–the fact that the other will never be wholly accessible to me. The social bond that friends share lies, according to Derrida, in this unspoken agreement to be alone together.” ~Dewey and Rifkin, Among Friends


(Geoffrey Edwards) #34

There is a lot to think about here, Heather (@hfester) . I am of two minds - go away and think before writing and write a reply right away. Perhaps I shall do both :slight_smile:

I respond to both Geoff and Geoffrey. However, I live in Quebec City, and the Québecois don’t shorten names very often. As a boy, I was teased terribly about my name, and so when I moved to Quebec as a young man, I found that I liked the change in the way people referred to me - my name in full. So I prefer Geoffrey. I also think the name suits me better - it has a slowness that I like.

Regarding “elliptical”. I know the word auto-poeitic, but tend to think of that as a technical term. I find elliptical more poetic, but I know it’s not quite the right word - although those writers are also elliptical in their writing/thinking :slight_smile: . I suppose I am trying to suggest that they go around the word/sense they mean, like an elliptical orbit (my PhD is in astrophysics…). I must admit that I have a very dry, rational, scientific way of writing (as a scientist), but also a much more imaged, “elliptical”, poetical way of writing (as an artist), but I am trying half-consciously to put more of the latter into the former, especially in these conversational writings, and I sometimes make word choices that may surprise as a result. I don’t know Gendlin’s work, I have marked it to read ; I am not a phenomenologist though, my thinking is strongly Deleuzean and Whiteheadean rather than phenomenological. But that doesn’t mean I can’t read Gendlin and get something out of it! (By the way, haven’t seen that work “grok” in thirty years :slight_smile: ) Love the Heidegger quote, the “topology of being”…

I know of Maurice Blanchot, but I have never read him - he was one of my wife’s favorites (she was a published poet) and I’m pretty sure if I hunted through my boxed books, I could find one or two volumes. Georges Bataille I have read and enjoyed, I think on eroticism. Jean-Luc Nancy not at all, this is the first time I have encountered that name. Clarice Lispector I have read. Derrida I avoided for years based on some early readings, but recently I read “A Taste for The Secret” which I thought was fantastic, so I’ve been thinking I might like to give him another go. Paz’s Le Singe Grammarien, Bachelard La poetique de l’espace but also La psychanalyse de la flamme, Michaux, hmm, Corps et savoir, Passager clandestin, some others as well. I’m pretty sure there are some others that would work, too. Borges sometimes. Sloterdijk isn’t in the same league. But his writing is interesting nonetheless - sometimes it soars, but then it gets bogged down again. More bog than flight, overall.

I love your thoughts about poet as thinker. I’m like Thomas Hardy, I let poetry lapse to write novels (not for the same reasons though, and certainly without the renom!), but I am coming back to poetry. Imagine writing philosophy as poetry. I’ve been working part of one of my novels into a poetic form - an epic fragment with a Homeric feel in iambic hexameter. The poetry allows me to say things the novel won’t let me say. I don’t know if the public will like it, but I love it! As for fitting in with a crowd, good luck with that. I never have. I am a professor in surveying, not my crowd at all, although I’ve done well by them. I work with medical researchers, I don’t fit in there either, not really. Where I most feel at home these days is hanging out with a group of writers, mostly in their 20s. First time I’ve felt reasonably comfortable in decades. But they don’t do philosophy. I am resigned to never finding a single group that “gets me”… This group here (Infinite Conversations) works nicely for some parts of who I am that don’t get out much. And the company we keep, fellow travellers, are exceptional, one and all.


(john davis) #35

A few reflections on performance, generated by the aesthetics of our relationships, revealed in this rich conversation.

I have added a section that I had deleted in the reading because it felt too intense for me to give in a public setting. I only present in public when I feel that I have what Mr. Eliot called an “objective correlative”.

Now, I’m not sure what that means, and Eliot confessed, late in his career, that he had no idea what he meant, but I like the tone of it. It has something to do with memory and how we filter out what is too personal ( whatever that is) and deliver a shareable reality. I imagine we are all of us somewhere in the Twilight Zone, for there is no objective observer. The objective observer, just like rational actor theory, is a convenient fiction.

I think it is important to have a warm heart and a cool head when performing. There is a fine line between raw emotion and the affective zone. The cognitive arises out of the affective zones, and our current AI, I fear, in misguided efforts to go Trans-human, will never find an algorithm for this fleshy mess. We will never coordinate Mind and Nature with an algorithm. My friend, Beatrice, was not an algorithm. She was the real deal.

We can hear in recordings of Eliot’s own recitation of his poetry, what he meant, by that enigmatic notion, the “objective correlative.”

Eliot is not the best reader of his own verse ( I think the actor Paul Schofield is the best) but he gives us great insight into the oral and the written dimensions, the 4D, and perhaps even the 5D, as we move from the world of silent reading to public speech. Yeats said prose was heard, poetry was overheard. Now , Yeats had an outrageous, over the top, theatrical voice. I think this is a vast subject.

This tension between public and private has always baffled me and so I dont pretend to have figured it out but try to write at the edge of my maps, at the edge is where I feel most afraid and the most alive. And I feel this, with my voice. I dont hear my voice, I feel it, both inside and outside, at the same time, vibrating. Our voice, rides the Mobius strip, the Vagus nerve, that moves down the back of our heads, through the viscera, the heart, and up into the larynx, the face, the eyes.

To those of us who yearn to write well,( and I think that includes all of us here), I would invite us to appreciate Ursula Le Quinn’s sage advice, " Trust your self, trust your characters, trust your readers."

Here is the update to my performance piece. It is a rough rehearsal for something that has just started to unfold. I feel a larger piece wants to happen, a hybrid perhaps of prose and poetry.

I thank our learning circle for the sharing of attention, from which I imagine, a delicate meta-attention emerges. It is that meta-attentiveness that is the glue that holds our personas and shadows together, and I believe, exploring that gray area, ( for me it is gray and is over my head and slightly to the left) is one of the great pleasures of performance. It is that mysterious coming together of the I and the We, that fascinates and frustrates us.

The Last Heartbeat of an Ancient Child

“It is those who are scarred by the disappearance of irreplaceable others that become individuals.”- Peter Sloterjdiik

I am a person who looks after the old people. As we sit on a bench near a great lake in the middle of a forest, sit in silence, with Beatrice, an old lady, aged 93, on my right and an old man, Sal, aged 94, on my left. It is Independence Day, the fourth of July.

Without my presence Beatrice and Sal might get lost in the forest or trip and fall or who knows? They might start to make out like two horney teenagers. Sexually transmitted diseases is epidemic among the elderly.

And while I muse upon that remote possibility, the great trees bend their branches with the breeze, producing a surf like murmur , the inhale, exhale of the great forest, so dark and deep, and a medicinal scent comes up from the damp roots. And I feel a story riding upon that scent and I want to become delicate and subtle and tune into that ancient story, for the old folks can feel it too. The three of us chuckle together as a family of ducks glide into view upon the cloudy lake.

And I imagine that before the picnic starts, before the gusts of people arrive with fireworks and firecrackers and corn on the cob, I could just take off my clothes and float upon the surface of the lake, with the ducks and swans, while the old people turn to each other, lit up from the inside, warmed by the sacred others well earned beauty, and remembering something, deep kiss, while I, independent, now, float solitaire, on my back with eyes closed, letting go of form, forgetting everything, except the colors, like Monet among the water lilies-

" You are so stupid," the old lady growls from her wheel chair, struggling to get up and flee. " What’s wrong with you? I’m afraid of you-"I can see in her a lost child, the neglect, the fury, all of it moving like a tornado, tearing up towns, pulling up trees-

" You will do as I say. " I command.“You will shut up and listen.” Her face is a hard mask, her teeth are bared, like the look of an angry monkey. We are primates, giving off our scent, she smells my rage, and backs down." From now on I am in charge. I am the boss. I decide what happens. You do what I say or I will fire you and you will be out of a job and penniless , out in the street." She was a child of the depression, and this hits home. So I soften my tone." I am here to protect you but you have to help me." A long pause, she twitches, and nods her head, in complacence. I must be cruel in order to be kind." I love you." I say, as if we have just had a lover’s quarrel.

" I love you, darling," she says with a trembling voice," more than I can ever say."

I try never, ever lie to her but sometimes I must. Feeling the presence of all the men in her life, who were SOBs, who let her down, who used her, I feel guilty for being a man, but I have to match her intensity in order to re-direct us towards a living arrangement. If I cant do that they will put her away, isolate her, drag her off to the snake pit. We must create a shared reality.

I lift her bruised hand to my lips, she brushes the hair out of my eyes, like I am a boy late for school

After lunch she takes her nap. I lay her out on the bed, fluff up her pillows. She asks me to lie down beside her. I feel a glitch, not a good idea, unprofessional, what would people think. She looks at me with clear blue eyes and says," Please-"

I lie down beside her, follow her breathing, observe the rise and fall of her chest as we soften our boundaries. We are in synch and she closes her eyes, resting on the bosom of the great Lover. Soon she opens her mouth as old people do and inhales and exhales in a jagged rhythm.

My eyes are open, gazing at the white ceiling, my hands resting on my belly, rising and falling, aware of winter, and the mind of winter, and feeling suddenly like a virgin, as the cloud of unknowing disperses my vanity-

My old lady won’t get out of bed. I open the blinds and the room is flooded with light, the trees outside are bare. This is the winter of her discontent.

Cradling her head, in the crook of my arm, I lift the old lady, as if she were arising from the depths of a deep, cold lake, to a sitting position. I kiss her on the cheek and announce my purpose. We are going dancing. The car is waiting. I have to get it together.

" No, no, no-" my old lady resists, her muscles are frozen, her mask is frozen, as the cold, gray trees. I have to get this show on the road.

" Charming?" I suggest. " Will you be charming?"

" Of course," she responds and I notice the corners of her lips, in that frowning face, begin to twitch.

" And a smile," I tease her," can be charming, but only if it is sincere. And can that smile that is sincere, where does that sincere smile come from?" The smile on her face, flickers on and off. I want to create conditions for a sincere smile.

" I’m afraid," she says, with a grimace.

" Afraid of what?"

" My condition." Her voice deepens, like a small craft that has moved from a shallow river, into a vast ocean. There is no bottom to that vast ocean from which she speaks.

" Me, too." I touch her cheek, lean forward, look into her eyes, blue, blue eyes of a child, and whisper," And you are afraid and I am afraid and you are very brave. You are the boss." I kiss her cheek. " We can stay home, if that’s what you want."

She rises from the bed, gazed in the hallway mirror, takes a tube of lipstick out of her handbag and applies it to her lips. I put a string of pearls around her neck, spritz her with Chanel and help her put on a black leather jacket, wrap a glamorous scarf around her neck. I ask her to look at herself in the mirror." You are stunning."

She smiles, for she is doing me a big favor, making my life much easier. I will not let go of this old lady, to inertia, to the laws of entropy, to wormwood, wormwood. She must dance again, and if she refuses to dance again, and stay in bed all day, what will become of us?

A former lover, just turned fifty, admitted over coffee, that his testosterone level is low. His doctor was worried about his sex drive. Tony shrugged his shoulder and we both chuckled awkwardly. " I don’t like," he said," that we are getting older."

" Whatever." I shrugged my shoulder, too. Then taking a chance I asked, shyly," What attracted us to each other? I mean you weren’t right for me, and I certainly wasn’t right for you-" I sipped my coffee, and noticed other people at the café were listening. Tony was silent, embarrassed by my absurd quesstion, I put my hand on his knee and being ten years his senior, confessed. " I want peace and quiet, sweetheart."

And when I first saw you twenty years ago you were so hot, so sexy, so drop dead gorgeous, and peace and quiet was the last thing we wanted. The neighbors complained about our noises at night, the curses, the door slams.

But I left a lot unsaid. I was not willing to give away power to a narcissistically driven son of a bitch. But I couldn’t say that.

I told him about Beatirce’s death bed scene, how she had dropped into that other world, that alternate world just a little bit left and up above our heads, and how I had closed her eyes down, Closing down the eyes of the dead is not like in the movies. Her eyes fluttered open again, and the nurse and I, were embarrassed. Has she come back, like Lazarus, to file a report from the Unknowable? The nurse puts the sheet over her.

I made the call to her family, gathered my things, called a cab, got to the train and an hour later, walked through the streets of Manhattan in a daze of the ordinary world, of people shopping, running around, doing stupid things to each other. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of Trump on the newspaper saying something stupid. I see a little girl, squirming in her mother’s arms.

I showed Tony a photo of Beatrice and myself. She was an elder who had lost her tribe. Tony maintained his silence and I realized, with a shock, that she loved me more deeply than he did.

And Tony dancing at the club that first time, under the disco ball, to Whitney Houston, or was it Donna Summer, so many years ago, it is all so vivid, right there, I can reach out and almost touch it, that lovely mirage, that dream of life-


(T J Williams) #36

Another disjointed aside: Sloterdijk [or really Ram Adhar Mall and Heinz Hulsmann (Die Drei Geburtsorte der Philosophie: China, Indien, Europa (1989) according to the footnote)] asserts (Vol II, p. 159): “As far as I can tell, only three advanced civilizations of antiquity developed and thought through such world interiors in their full implications: China, India, and Greece, namely those cultures which, accordingly to a relatively broad academic consensus are the three birthplaces of philosophy.” It would probably be best to say as far as accessible, surviving traditions go, so the likely great relative loss of what was conceived in Mesopotamia, Egypt, or among the Maya can be acknowledged but this much is not entirely off-base.
This is a short take on the philosophical principles of negation or absence, illustrated by our “big three”:
https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/ccr/vol26/iss26/8/
Archie J Bahm, “Three Zeroes: A Comparative Philosophy of Voids”, Comparative Civilizations Review #26 (1992), pp. 150-151
Honestly, when I read this years ago, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. But after Gebser it makes sense as respective manifestations of his structures:
“The Western conception of absence is absence of being, not
absence of distinction or absence of exclusion. [mental duality]
The Indian conception of absence is absence of difference, including
absence of exclusion, not absence of being. [magical unity]
The Chinese conception of absence is absence of exclusion,
not absence of being or absence of difference. [mythical polarity]”

Now, the living and non-hierarchical nature of these approaches was one of Gebser’s important points. In light of the full statement Sloterdijk makes on pages 158-159:
"A group that had withdrawn all significant monsters inwards and, in a sense, overcome or enclosed them, would have grown into an empire or advanced-civilized macrosphere. One can therefore only speak of an authentic macrospheric form if the character of an inner world is still evident on the large and largest scale. In an inner world-like large orb, the will to power must show the same expansion as a will to animate the entire space. As far as I can tell… (etc)"
it would seem that our “first philosopher of globalization” is wedded to the idea that it would have to take place on someone’s terms, at the expense of the rest. I am curious as to how ‘foam’ contributes to the solution of the issue (if that is even his intent)…


(douglas duff) #37

Sloterdijk’s statement of only “three advanced civilizations of antiquity” was the first comment that awoke my inner-Ed; this seemed like a bold, incomplete statement with no follow through. Thanks for this depth!
Edit: just re-read and grokked the three distinct absences…very original analysis of the Void! Now wondering how this ties in with the “Big three’s” cultural development and, yes how this ties in with globalization…currently foaming at the brain…


(john davis) #38

Thanks, TJ, for the tangent! I wonder if you have had a chance to check out Baneji’s lecture on the Integral Impulse? Although, I have not read this essay, ( I will get to it today or tomorrow) I get the feeling there may be some hidden connections.


(T J Williams) #39

Yes, I did and enjoyed the lecture very much. In fact, it is what made me remember the Bahm article…


(Ed Mahood) #40

An interesting claim, to be sure, but I’m not quite getting the connection to your interpretation of Bahm. Gebser, for example, would agree that the first is philosopheme-related (i.e. mental duality), but mythical polarity is mythologeme-based, and magical unity is, well, magic. They would not be considered philosophies in the sense that Gebser uses the term. What makes them philosophers in Sloterdijk’s? Just askin’. :anguished:

What does he mean by “advanced”? Advanced in relation to what? And please don’t tell me the answer may (or may not) be addressed in “Foam”. I’m still waiting for a Sloterdijkian point, you know. :smiling_imp: