Unfortunately, the only part of the review visible is the rather rambling introduction. It ends — for me – right when he starts pointing out that Sloterdijk is rather controversial, and that he had Habermas has a bit of a tiff. I have great respect for Habermas, even if he, too, at times is rather difficult to follow.
It would presumptuous of me to say that I was or am uninfluenced by Precht’s review. I happen to agree with him. I waded into Sloterdijk’s Critique of Cynical Reason as far as I could, but he was there, as in Spheres, for my tastes, all over the place. I like to know what point it is that I’m supposed to be getting, and I never get that from Sloterdijk. Apparently I’m not alone. Precht thinks so, too, and for me the key sentence in the part of Gray’s review that I could read was, "The lesson Sloterdijk thinks can be drawn from these graves is not altogether clear. " I’m taking that to mean that Gray also agrees, at least to some extent. If all you leave behind you is a fog, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to get the impression that maybe the thinking producing it is foggy itself.
Having had my own phases of provocation in my life, I don’t have a problem with provocation, unless its provocation for its own sake, but then again, I find anything “for its own sake” somewhat problematic. I live in a world that is saturated with other human beings and everything I do, say, think, imagine, feel, contemplate or ponder is influenced by those beings and I like to think that the feeling is at least so mutual that those others are vaguely aware my being there as well. More than that is really not necessary.
It would appear that I am apparently too thick, too dull-witted perhaps, to appreciate Sloterdijk’s apparent genius, I would like to know what constitutes that genius or why is it that others are so taken by him. So far no one has been able to help me out. I understand his occasionally witty turn-of-phrase, his peppering of his prose with allusions (perhaps to the point of distraction), all the things he makes others think of or, as was stated more than once in our reading group, what makes him so readable for some is his “style”. At the same time, Sloterdijk, at least in German, very often also comes across as a know-it-all, as pompous, boisterous, blustering and downright arrogant. If I want to get insulted, I can go to a sleazy pub near the train station and get more than an earful of that. Others are more tolerant of these moments than I am. I think the way one writes says a lot about the writer’s character. Sloterdijk is, without a doubt, a character, but I don’t think he has much character. I’m more partial – and it is really a personal preference, I suppose – toward clarity, directness, and showing a modicum of respect for the reader/listener. (That’s why I like the conversations around here so much.)
Having said all that, I’m a firm believer that one should make up one’s own mind about things, and authors, and thinkers, and whatever else. All those who are going on to read volume 2 of the trilogy are getting more out than they are putting in, or they wouldn’t be doing it. For me, personally, Sloterdijk’s too much work. I’m not work-shy, rather it is important for me to decide how and where I spend my time. There are, regardless of how we feel about it or experience it, only 24 hours in any given day.
Instead, I’m a big Gebser fan. That’s my personal preference. He helped me immensely to make sense of both academic and more esoteric undertakings in which I was (have been, and am) involved. He has, as far as I’m concerned, a workable and usable model for dealing with consciousness and spirituality; he is rarely out of place in any serious academic, intellectual, or late-night discussion. He has thoughts, ideas, concepts, and notions that I can take with me when dealing with other thinkers. But what impressed me most about Gebser was his clarity, despite the density of the text. Like I said, I’m all for clarity.
I firmly believe that if you can’t make clear what you’re thinking, your thinking isn’t clear.
May you enjoy your journey.