Globes, by Peter Sloterdijk – Conversation #2


(Mindful AI) #1



  • Access: Anthropic Climate (review)
  1. Dawn of the Long-Distance Closeness: The Thanatalogical Space, Paranoia and the Peace of the Realm
  2. Vascular Memories: On the Reason for Solidarity in Its Inclusive Form
    Pages 135–237.


John Davis
Marco V Morelli
TJ Williams
Heather Fester
Geoffrey Edwards
Doug Duff
Jamie Ranger

Recorded: 1/11/2017

(Heather Fester) #2

Works for me! I am having trouble getting a copy of the book from the library (and want to wait for some part-time work to kick in before buying the book). Would anyone be willing to share the first two chapters (someone who would have easy access to a scanning copier by any chance)? I did get Bubbles easily from the library, though, and have been catching up a bit on that idea. Sloterdijk starts it with a Bachelard quote, and based on his writing style, I can see why. I imagine/am guessing Bachelard, who is a big influence for me in my writing/thinking, is a big influence for PS. But, I will have to research to find out for sure. I like it so far!

And, I needed this concept as well. I spent Sunday diving into WWII documentaries, especially some films on HItler’s charisma and the Nuremberg trials (from the perspective of three of the defendants). This not only helps me in my teaching for spring, but also relates to one sense I have of the bubble/sphere. It looks like this book in PS’s trilogy actually gets into historical events. (And, it has special relevance for me as someone who got sucked into a cult environment, as many of us do–often without realizing it–not that I’m reducing the bubble to the cult. I look forward to going back through the forum posts to see if that was discussed at all, but please link me if you know of a conversation here that I would like.) I’m thinking of teaching my writing and rhetoric course with a theme on propaganda in the spring, and many of the readings the students did in the fall covered speeches by President’s on the Cold War or WWII. It has been so interesting to fill in this part of my education when I’m mature enough not to lose my worldview over some tarnished and dented nationalism, but I have to be careful in how I handle it with them. This is the part of SD I am most interested in right now, and I am thinking how great it would be to have a documentary that explores post-nationalistic bubbles and fervor. Anyway… probably not the place for a full dissertation on this topic! :slight_smile:

Thanks for organizing these meetings! Heather

(Geoffrey Edwards) #3

Bachelard has always been one of my references, too, perhaps because I, too, have had one foot in the litterary realm and one in the science (and space) realm. Sloterdijk also cites Henri Michaux quite a lot also - Michaux is another writer who escapes categories. When I started on Sloterdijk, I thought to myself anyone who quotes Bachelard and Michaux extensively has my vote. Later, things got murkier, but I still have a lot of tolerance for Sloterdijk because of those supports.

Interesting cross-connection, @hfester. I also have an abiding interest in WWII although more especially in the role of Hitler in relation to our understanding of good and evil. I find that just as the “evilness” of the worst Nazis in WWII are difficult to understand today, so the “goodness” of many of the people who risked their lives and the lives of their families to help other people during the war are also difficult for us to understand, and this fascinates me. Hitler’s charisma is decidedly odd - reading about his early life, he seems to have been a singularly unlikeable person, but this doesn’t concord with certain later accounts which viewed the man as having a certain kind of charm (although perhaps the charm followed from the trappings of power…). I don’t think we did get into the idea of cults in relation to bubbles, although I think Sloterdijk does lay the groundwork to talk about this in interesting ways. As we get more into Globes, perhaps, this will come up…? Anyway, useful reflections, Heather @hfester!

(douglas duff) #4

Sloterdijk Crossword.PDF (1.1 MB)

Clues For the Border Around "Achilles' Shield (or "The Great Mother" ...starting at Clue 34 and going clockwise
  • Blacksmith God (10 letters)
  • “Spacious” author (10)
  • Iliad author (5)
  • Famous description in Book 18 of Iliad (8,6)
  • "Oceanus is the reference of the world dominated by ______ (3,5,6)
  • Nine on A. shield (4)
  • Eldest of the Titans (7)
  • Alternate name for Oceanus (5,6)

(douglas duff) #5

Belated Fröhliche Weihnachten to the Infinite crew! Above is a Sloterdijk themed crossword that I created based upon this Globes Conversation 2 reading, rather spontaneously. This is a first attempt at crossword creation, thus the lack of “official” qualities (supposedly two letter words are no-no’s; asymmetry is frowned upon…but, I believe Sloterdijk would approve of the lack of symmetry of this circular crossword). The crossword’s central pun (34 across) came about while reading “Vascular Memories.” Give it a whirl!
(1/8: edited clues for border above).

(Geoffrey Edwards) #6

I’m probably not going to be able to make the discussion tomorrow, something has come up. I am disappointed, I have been looking forward to our second discussion and am almost caught up on the reading. I may be able to drop in for a short while, we shall see.

(douglas duff) #7

Disappointed on this end as well. Please do attend for whatever amount you can offer. I have appreciated your contributions to the Bubbles Conversations, both live and on the discussion threads.

I have reviewed each Bubbles discussion at breakneck speed to pluck some fruitful understanding from this Sloterdijk tree. I was drawn to one of your initial comments about having to read him from start to finish (contrasting this with starting from any point in Deleuze’s writing):

Personally, reading first TJ’s recommended catch up technique , then playing catch-up with Globes to Chapter 2, I felt I had a near complete understanding of his style and process and intentions. After reviewing the videos and attempting to follow along, I see now the mass of depth that is missing. The womb idea, for example, is all over Globes in these first chapters, so I know I need to visit Chapter 4: The Retreat Within the Mother at some point (after we finish Foams in a couple months, we are revisiting Spheres in 2019, right? anyone with me?!).

I fully understand those that take issue with the text. I see it as pure poetry for fifty pages then scratch my head for a couple pages (or a couple hundred) before the pace picks back up again. I heard from a secondary source (in Adam Kirsch’s Rocket and Lightship essay on Sloterdijk entitled “Up From Cynicism”…written before Globes was translated in English) that there is an interview in which Sloterdijk confessed he originally conceived Spheres as a novel, thus it “reads less like a structured argument than a long prose poem.” …not a system but “a series of improvisations.” “…Sloterdijk’s goal is to restate our basic quandaries in revelatory new language, to bring them home to us as living experiences instead of stale formulas.” Sounds about right to me…and I have to say, I like this stuff the Dijk is producing…I can even admit that I love it!

(Jamie Ranger) #8

I’d love to get in on this conversation, although it’ll be 1am my time, so I might fall asleep before I come up with anything interesting to say!

(Marco V Morelli) #9

Hi Jamie~ you are very welcome to join us. Perhaps being closer to sleep, you’ll be able to channel some hypnagogic insight. Thanks for adding to our Personal Introductions (forum-wide). I am curious hear your thoughts and questions about the book. So far, I find myself relishing Globes and expect we’ll have a fruitful discussion tonight.

(douglas duff) #10

Quick relevant video for “Vascular Memories” (especially p 221 of (American) English translation):

Sloterdijk’s ancestor even makes an appearance @ the 51 second mark!

(Marco V Morelli) #11

Now THAT is the vacation I want. And damn late-stage capitalism for denying it to me!

(douglas duff) #12

Wally’s Hot Tub World can bring the experience to your backyard for only $3999.99! Monkeys not included…

I was hoping to find the segment of the full video that had the hot springs tribe leaving outside members (lower social rank I suppose) out in the cold. In desperation to feel the warmth, they would leap in only to be beaten out of the thermosphere and left again out in the cold “second ring” of the fire.

(Heather Fester) #13

Geoffrey, re: your interest in Hitler and good and evil, I watched a great docudrama entitled The Eichmann Story over the holiday (such cheery viewing) that explored the obsession of the documentary director brought in to film Eichmann’s trial. He was fixated the entire time on Eichmann, waiting for him to break. And, at the very last of it, when they showed footage of the concentration camps, he showed a reaction.

I see that as really relevant to Bubbles in particular. I think Eichmann’s perception of good and evil (echoing Arendt’s description of the banality of evil) was constrained by the cult mentality of the inner circle of the SS around Hitler. And, contextualizing the philosophies they followed coming out of populist Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries, they would have been able to rationalize a lot. Anyway, my inquiry continues.

Hope you can make it onto the call. I’m also interested in Michaux. And, looking more into Sloterdijk’s background, it also makes sense that he’s working from a post-dialectical (like Gebser’s integral) method (interesting to learn too that he conceived of this project as a novel first) writing style. One of the links I clicked (maybe from above on this page) suggested that Sloterdijk was coming out of Germany after the holocaust and had to make sense of it–his Critique of Cynical Reason was one way he did that. Got that book at the library too. Dives into Hitler a bit.

Got a copy of Globes and will be joining everyone on the call tonight.

(Marco V Morelli) #14

@Douggins: I had wanted to ask, but held back—why did P. Sloterdijk throw you (or your bones…) out of the Academy at the end of your spheropoetic fantasia?

@hfester: You mentioned a talk by Robb Smith, which I happened to watch the other night; but it was late in our call and I didn’t think we could get into it. It’s interesting to me how some previously-identified conservatives are coming ‘round to more conventionally progressive points of view on things like universal basic income and the social safety net. (They seem to be concerned with saving capitalism from its own ‘success’ ala post-scarcity, etc.) At the same time, I’m seeing progressives question things such as identity politics and anti-hierarchy. I wonder what this might have to do with “spherological’ and/or integral ideologies. More broadly, I wonder what you think “integral theory” has to do with “spheres.” Good to see you on the call!

(Jamie Ranger) #15

Going to have to slightly clarify a comment I made in our discussion. Whilst Sloterdijk would’ve been rich from the success of his prior works, he didn’t start hosting the ZDF television series ‘Im Glahaus: Das Philosophische Quartett’ until 2002. A tiny point, but it means he was unlikely to be famous whilst writing this trilogy, which is a significant adjustment in my claims about his subjectivity.

Even though my German is practically non-existent, it’s fascinating to see that there is a show where four professional philosophers are given an hour on public television just to shoot the shit (although as German colleagues of mine have pointed out, the quality of the discussion is usually relatively low, and the philosophers are almost exclusively old, white guys).

Some of the controversial comments that Sloterdijk has made in the past: - Sloterdijk defending racist comments made by a politician that were publicly leaked - not particularly offensive, but a rather non-philosophical defence of capitalism as opposed to Germany’s relatively robust welfare state - an article about the rise of the far-right in Germany that credits Sloterdijk’s former assistant Marc Jongen as the leading ‘intellectual’ in the movement, often using Sloterdijk’s concepts to advocate for neo-Nazi policy positions.

And finally, for those interested in transhumanism/posthumanism, Sloterdijk has recently talked about ‘anthropotechnics’, and argues that ‘man and machine’ will one day merge, only twenty years after everyone else has been saying it…

Is Sloterdijk Conservative?
(Ed Mahood) #16

As in the quasi in-resident curmudgeon and Sloterdijkian non-fan, I appreciate another, more sober contribution to the discussion surrounding our friend Peter.

Actually, he co-hosted it with Rüdiger Safranski (a literary critic and author who in his younger days was co-founder of the Mao-oriented communist party in Germany). The two split on not-so-friendly terms; apparently Sloterdijk initiated the separation. Go figure: the reformed Maoist and the crypto-Capitalist parting ways. The show was aired about every two months from 2002-2012. It had been patterned on another very successful late-night talk show in the realm of literature, Das literarisches Quartett which had run from 1988-2001, in 2005-2006, and again now since 2015. Its primary host, Marcel Reich-Ranicki was, in contrast to Sloterdijk, generally well-known within the German public and is remembered by many.

Sloterdijk’s otherwise nearness to far-right thinking, and some of the comments he has made in and in regard to his book, The Human Zoo got him into trouble with Jürgen Habermas, a real contemporary German philosopher, since he was advocating approaches that were perhaps too similar to those made by a little ranter with a mustache and his Party 80 years ago.

I personally think that you can get whatever you want out of Sloterdijk and that he represents no particular line of thinking nor does he have a centralizing or organizing theme to his “philosophy” (other than his “spheres”, of course, but they strike me as more ephemeral than real, even intellectually). But, that’s just me. I do appreciate that a number of folks here seem to enjoy him for whatever reasons they have (which is why I still follow the discussions in this thread, even though I’m not reading him myself … perhaps they will uncover something that will change my mind).

(douglas duff) #17
"Home Is Where The Hearth Is"

So I entered Sloterdijk’s Academy without the knowledge of geometry,
but when approaching his home, walking past the surrounding cemetery,
He called to me, gave me an amulet key,
invited me in.
I walked past the atrium, approached his doorway and turned the key
portraits from the Titanic and Liebestod caught my eye
Music playing in the background, spherically lyrically spherical.

In his living quarters, I felt warm and I felt death
The fireplace was dancing with heat and destruction and life.
I viewed this plaque above his mantle with the phrase

home is where the hearth is.

We have hearth
We have heart
We have heat

Then, with a wave of his hand
He tells me to have a seat

he tells me a story:

We heathens share and discard our bones…alone, alone again and again…until then
The bones surround us, ground us, frame us
searching no more for
Warm space…for it is here in this place.
Home is where the hearth is.
It is a womb with a view

like an arrogant lover
After having me hang upon each elegant word,
He discards me, like a bone
Picking a new partner to dance with
As I exited his academy.

was written about an hour before the conversation.

My poetry or creative writing

My poetry or creative writing rarely comes from conscious thought. Two spaces access the necessary muse:
1: While telling the nightly “story minutes” to my son; I request five words from him and “magically” create a story from these words…I try this out sometimes with myself; just pick 5 words then see what story appears…definitely taps into the subconscious brew.
2: while I am commuting by car to work or back home, I practice singing and let the words flow, typically in a rhyming sea shanty, I suppose…this bringing forth the subconscious realm provides me with an awareness of what I cannot articulate in normal speech. I let loose a Sloterdijk Shanty the other day and it went from a lone abandoned ‘monstrous’ wild child (similar to Ayla in the Clan of the Cave Bear series) that comes to the ‘fire circle’ of another clan…at first she is seen as the monstrous outsider; then she was given a space within the fire circle, allowing her to be a part of the first ring or circle, thus a part of the family.

I do not fully understand what I meant, TBH. The discarding of the bones, forming bone circles, is Sloterdijk’s archive, possibly… his own collection in his human zoo. He took me in, extracted whatever he needed from me, then let me go, though I am still wandering about the grounds…
I had the thought while reading at some point that he is like an aloof lover. He seduces us with his prose (at least in Spheres) and once his ‘verbose vignette’ is finished, he goes on to something else, he retreats back into his study and becomes engrossed with his fat mind, not concerned about the reader.

Other notes on the significance of first two chapters:

As i have but only a surface level reading of this text, with little socio-political insight to contribute, I tend to embody the direction of his prose. I was a bit frustrated with myself during our conversation for not allowing myself the space to speak up about this embodiment and the relevance to the text and to the entire Globes project. My interpretation of Sloterdijk is far from correct, far from the public interpretation, but if we are to read the text without preconceived notions of what side Sloterdijk is on or the controversies he has caused or bubbles he has bursted, then we can open up to this slow crawl that is Spheres. Many say there is nothing new in Sloterdijk, just a rehash of old ideas with “cute anachronisms, and cascading neologisms” … I feel differently…

Home as where the hearth is was quite literal for me. I have a potbelly stove in this house purchased 2 years ago and it has been put to use quite frequently this year (didn’t touch it last year). About the same time I jumped into Globes last month, my wife, child and I had set up camp around this hearth, for we are humble and I am cheap and do not wish to have heating unit run 24/7…I sawed the wood with my new electric chainsaw and chopped the wood with an axe (this feminine fellas first foraging into the world of the “man”) and carried the wood into our abode. As I read “Vascular Memories” I was taken into the realm of the prehistoric life, the monstrous outside, the fire that brings together the individual, the couple, the family, the clan (in The Clan of the Cave Bear, one of the male leaders preserves the previous day’s embers as they nomadically go about the day.) and the most basic cult formation that occurs as they gather around the fire and later, the alchemical cookery that is abrewing.
Reighn and I shared stories that we normally would not have shared because of our separate paths, even within our own home (blame the phone!)…the hearth and the heat really brought out the heart. We shared coffee as she told me stories of the fishermen in the Philippines of her village who would awake at 4 AM and gather around the fire, sharing food and stories before setting sail. @achronon and I somewhat concluded that we are in separate sandboxes for good reason…our Venn diagrams of life, even the most connected of us, have only a few overlaps with the rest remaining in the monstrous space, no matter how good our intentions may be.
I have been on a search for the ultimate deep connection through deep conversations and deep understanding, as we all are here on some level. This has been my question guiding me in each action: How do we share a deep connection with anyone at any given time in any given space? How do we expand our hearth, forming one circle around the fire, including everyone that we can and not let anyone feel they are on the outside, in the second ring, the ring of cold, conspiring, conniving thought? I believe what Sloterdijk is doing is attempting to show us new metaphors, in a new language. I mentioned the text is not long enough for what I would like for it to achieve…which is a stepping away from the feeling that we have the answers or that we need immediate answers to our problems, a stepping away from that which lay before us, which is life. This slow thinking from within our own experience is what I believe will save the world. This is where the beauty is found, the playful love of life that is missing from politics and media and public versions of life. It can be found in small groups of us, but as a whole, we are searching in all the wrong places.

(john davis) #18

This is delighthful , Doug, and thought provoking!

(douglas duff) #19

just edited (added “other notes on the significance of first two chapters”) to provide more context…

(john davis) #20

I couldn’t agree with you more.