Tag Archives: philosophy

RIP Bernard Stiegler (1952 – 2020)

Bernard Stiegler was a French philosopher known for his reflections on technology.

Outside the field of philosophy, he is of interest for his delightful retelling of the Epimetheus creation myth from Protagoras told in the film The Ister (2004).

Bernard Stiegler retelling the creation myth of Protagoras in The Ister (2004)

The transcript of that story (above):

‘One day Zeus said to Prometheus, “the time has come for you, for us gods, to bring into the day the non-immortals.” The non-immortals being animals and men. Prometheus, who is put in charge of this task, has a twin brother named Epimetheus. Epimetheus resembles Prometheus; he is his double. But in fact Epimetheus is his brother’s opposite. Epimetheus is the god of the fault of forgetting. Prometheus is a figure of knowledge, of absolute mastery, total memory. Prometheus forgets nothing, Epimetheus forgets everything. Epimetheus says to his brother: “Zeus has given you this task – I want to do it! Me me me! I’ll take care of it.” Epimetheus is a rather simple-minded brother, and Prometheus is fond of him. He dares not refuse and says, “OK, you take care of it.” So Epimetheus distributes the qualities. He will give the gazelle its speed, for example. […] He distributes the qualities in equilibrium. Epimetheus’ distribution of the qualities describes the ecological balance of nature. […] Now, as Epimetheus is distributing the qualities, he suddenly notices something… […] “There are no qualities left! I forgot to save a quality for man!” […] “I still have to bring mankind, mortals, into the day.” […] but there are no qualities left to give him a form. So Prometheus goes to the workshop of the god Hephaestus, to steal fire. Fire, which is obviously the symbol of technics, but which is also the symbol of the power of god. Zeus.’–Bernard Stiegler retelling the creation myth of Protagoras in The Ister (2004)

From top to bottom: Metaphor (1972) by Hawkes, Shipwreck With Spectator (1979) by Hans Blumenberg, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936) by I. A. Richards, A Grammar of Metaphor (1958) by Brooke-Rose and Paradigms for a Metaphorology (1960) by Blumenberg.

Studies in metaphorology

It’s good to live in a city.

From the UA library on 3/10/19:

From top to bottom: Metaphor (1972) by Hawkes, Shipwreck With Spectator (1979) by Hans Blumenberg, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (1936) by I. A. Richards, A Grammar of Metaphor (1958) by Brooke-Rose and Paradigms for a Metaphorology (1960) by Blumenberg.

RIP Bryan Magee (1930–2019)

Bryan Magee was a British philosopher noted for bringing philosophy to television in the programs Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987).

A quick check found some really boring television (I love boring television if it’s extremely boring, regular television is just plain boring).

In the beginning of this bit two men in suits are sitting on a sofa facing each other as well as the camera. They are John Passmore and Bryan Magee and they discuss David Hume in 1987:

And then there is this bit of 1977 when Magee interviews Herbert Marcuse:

Kant in film, and, the sexual lives of philosophers

Prompted by my previous post on Nietzsche in film, here is an interesting film on the life of Immanuel Kant, more particularly on his last days.

The film, Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant is based on The Last Days of Immanuel Kant by English writer Thomas De Quincey.

In the film, Kant approaches the end of his life, which is entirely punctuated by habits acquired over many years. The leaving of his butler Martin Lampe will upset this well planned routine.

In the scene above, Kant reads a letter asking for help. It is a letter by Maria von Herbert, sent in August 1791.

The letter was also mentioned in La vie sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant, about which I have written here.

Like so many philosophers, Kant was not sexually active. For all we know, Immanuel Kant died a virgin. I find this very interesting.

So did Friedrich Nietzsche, in The Genealogy of Morals he says on married philosophers:

“the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage, together with all that could persuade him to it—marriage as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. Up to the present what great philosophers have been married? Heracleitus, Plato,Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer—they were not married, and, further, one cannot imagine them as married. A married philosopher belongs to comedy, that is my rule; as for that exception of a Socrates—the malicious Socrates married himself [to Xanthippe], it seems, ironice, just to prove this very rule.”

So did Jacques Derrida.

Asked what would he like to see in a documentary on a major philosopher, such as Hegel or Heidegger, Derrida replies he would want them to speak of their sexuality and ‘the part that love plays in their life’. He criticizes the dissimulation of such philosophers concerning their sex lives – ‘why have they erased their private life from their work?’

Nietzsche in film

I’ve taken an interest in biopics.

Researching Nietzsche I stumbled upon the film Beyond Good and Evil (1977) by Liliana Cavani, which follows the intense relationship between Friedrich Nietzsche, Lou Salome and Paul Rée.

The film features the scene in which Lou Salomé reins Nietzsche and Rée in front of her cart[1] (above) as well as the horse scene in Turin [2](Nietzsche saw a horse being flogged, embraced it and collapsed and lived ten more years in a vegetative state).

Another interesting film appears to be Days of Nietzsche in Turin[3], a 2001 Brazilian film.

Referring to the horse incident, the film The Turin Horse[4] asks “what happened to the horse?”.

In director Béla Tarr’s introductory words:

“In Turin on 3rd January, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Alberto. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, ‘Mutter, ich bin dumm!’ [‘Mother, I am stupid!’ in German] and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse.”

See Friedrich_Nietzsche#Depictions

“I would prefer not to”

Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853) is a short story by Herman Melville famous for its dictum “I would prefer not to,” uttered by the reluctant clerk Bartleby.

Many existentialists and absurdists have regarded the story as a prescient exploration and embodiment of their concerns.

French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote an essay on the text titled “Bartleby, or, the Formula” (1989).

Above is the Encyclopædia Britannica film adaptation of 1969.

Coke? The perfect commodity.

Coke? The perfect commodity. Why?

In The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology documentary Slavoj Žižek explains.

The documentary is now online in full. (update: the documentary was taken offline a few days after I had posted it.)

Slavoj Žižek is unique in using films to prove philosophical points, see film and philosophy.

The full text of the The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is here[1].

 

“The road up and the road down are the same thing”

Heraclitus by Hendrick ter Brugghen

Via research into the canonical Giordano Bruno I stumbled upon the concept of the unity of opposites, which in turn led me to Heraclitus who is famous for two dicta: one involving a river: “You cannot step in the same river twice” and one involving a road, “The road up and the road down are the same thing.”

I’ve put the two dicta above in my category Dicta at http://artandpopularculture.com/Dicta. I currently have 330 dicta. The first 330 of what will become an unranked top 1000.

I spent some time trying to find out why Heraclitus is often depicted with a globe. Unsuccessfully. Anyone?

Michel Houellebecq in ‘Near Death Experience’

Near Death Experience is a 2014 French film directed, produced and written by Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern coming to local screens from September onwards.

The film stars French writer Michel Houellebecq as Paul, a burn-out man who escapes to the mountains on his racing bike with the plan to commit suicide.

Some of Houellebecq’s work has already been filmed.

Several years ago I saw the decidedly philosophical film Extension du domaine de la lutte (also known as Whatever) which is now on YouTube in its entirety.

The “our hero” of Whatever reminds me of Paul.

Houellebecq’s debut as protagonist has been acclaimed.

He is part of my canon.