Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed."

This morning I found this Chesterton passage in Zizek's Less Than Nothing:

"Truths turn into dogmas the instant that they are disputed.  Thus every man who utters a doubt defines a religion.  And the scepticism of our time does not really destroy the beliefs, rather it creates them; gives them their limits and their plain and defiant shape.  We who are Liberals once held Liberalism lightly as a truism.  Now it has been disputed, and we hold it fiercely as a faith.  We who believe in patriotism once thought patriotism to be reasonable, and thought little more about it.  Now we know it to be unreasonable, and know it to be right.  We who are Christians never knew the great philosophic common sense which inheres in that mystery until the anti-Christian writers pointed it out to us.  The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied.  Everything will become a creed.  It is a reasonable position to deny the stones in the street; it will be a religious dogma to assert them."

That bit was from G.K. Chesterton's Heretics (John Lane, 1905).  It has great explanatory force in today's political environment, no?


My wish for the world is that we spend less time trying to be right and more time practicing kindness.  Crazy, eh?

That being said, sometimes it is important to say no.  To say it emphatically, even.  But that, too, can be an act of kindness on occasion.  Be kind.  But don't be stupid.


I bought the new volume of David Foster Wallace essays, Both Flesh and Not.  It was an extravagant purchase to the extent that I only wanted it for one of the essays, "The Empty Plenum: David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress."  Markson is a writer that I love.  As is Wittgenstein.  I was curious to see how the amped and wordy Wallace would approach both Markson and Ludwig W.  Truth  be told, he connects everything up brilliantly.  Hopefully I'll post something more about it at some point.  Fascinating to me how philosophy, fiction and poetry bleed into one another at times.


It's been awhile since I've read a lot of the writers discussed, evoked and transfigured in Kate Zambreno's Heroines.  I'm thinking of Jane Bowles, Henry Miller, Kate Chopin,Bataille, Laure, Plath, Sexton,Anais Nin, Jean Rhys, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald,Breton and his Nadja,  Flaubert and his Bovary and many more.  (I'm highlighting figures I have a particular history with. There are a lot more that come into play in this wonderful book.)  KZ's making me want to re-read it all and I can't.  I have too much else I need to do at the moment, before I run out of time. But...

The work Zambreno's doing is essential. And very moving to me.  She's found a way to make "the wives" of modernism present and for them to speak through her almost parallel existence.  It's an intensely realized tightrope walk through many genres in which the real and the virtual are deeply intertwined.  I love this book.


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