2022: Introducing Ereignis: philosophy, technology, way of life. Moss: Tankebanen forlag.
- Foreword 7
- Ereignis: the thought 9
- Interview with Wolfgang Schirmacher 23
- Keywords: a glossary 37
- List of full-page images 41
- Contributors 43
- About Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts 45
Ereignis, a German word, refers to an unusual, even life altering event. Its root, eigen indicates ownership, making the verb signify a process by which we take possession of something, or, simply, give sense to an event. Ereignis refers to the act of making an event our own.
When our Being reveals itself it is as if we are near the presence of a mystical light. We can refer to this event of nearness as the Ereignis of presencing, i.e. the event of coming close to our Being. In our daily lives we tend to find ourselves barred from experiencing such a presence; this blockage, concealment, is a side effect of our metaphysical view of technology, our attempts to dominate life through technical mastery. The cure lies not in accumulating more knowledge, but rather in the ancient admission of Socratic learned ignorance: All I know is that I do not know. As a truth technique this approach can facilitate an experience of the world in its entirety, momentarily, and yet as if eternally.
To gain a relationship to technology that is governed by truth rather than metaphysics does not entail that we leave the modern world behind; rather, we begin to posit a different relation to the machines: technology should no longer serve to dominate and exploit us and our natural habitats, but rather as aids in our task to become guardians and nurturers of Being and beings.
Thus is the event of Ereignis: an opportunity to rethink our lives as a whole. This event is such that it cannot be fully present; like Being itself we approach it, seek its proximity, and then, as the event passes, we begin to grasp it, making it our own.
- Preface: Before the question 7
- Introduction 11
- Chapter 1: In the name of the Father: a history of perversion 25
- Chapter 2: Knight time: literary perversions 53
- Chapter 3: The fragment and the mirror 79
- Chapter 4: Clandestine jouissance 105
- Chapter 5: Beyond the fragment: community, ethics, illusions 135
- Afterword: Ethic without obligation 163
- Bibliography 177
- Index 187
Preface: Before the question
In what arrived belatedly as an announced, but delayed, preface to Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom, Jacques Lacan interrogates the relations Sade could be said to have had with, on the one hand, Sigmund Freud, and, on the other, Immanuel Kant.1 Despite the presuppositions at the time of its writing, the text was first published as “Kant avec Sade” in the journal Critique in 1963 and only later reappeared as the preface it had been conceived as: announcing the dogma of de Sade as an introduction to one of his key works. What had happened in the meantime, Lacan cryptically suggests, is that his – Lacan’s – collection of lectures and essays, Écrits, had arrived with a certain acclaim on the French cultural scene, and what had at first appeared to the publisher as inconsequential ravings had morphed into a profound and potentially significant enframing of de Sade’s “philosophy.”
What is it we find here? It is stupid, says Lacan, to pronounce – as too many “literary types” do – that de Sade’s perversions prefigured Freud’s interrogation of sexual mores. True, they both have the appearance of schooling, and so serve to prepare, Lacan informs us, the way for a new science. To understand the difference between them we need to arrive at some conception of Freud’s ethics of pleasure.
With what is known as the pleasure principle – announced in 1911 – Freud ordained a mechanism whereby pleasure is maintained at the lowest possible level.2 Lacan elsewhere referred to this principle as a homeostatic device, since it seeks to secure the functioning of the organism with as little excitement as possible.
Freud’s principle is different from traditional ethics in that it doesn’t disallow some sexual practices that had hitherto been condemned as wrong. However, such a realization doesn’t relieve us from approaching the principle as ethical. To Lacan, Freud’s homeostatic device is what “preordains the creature to its good.” In other words, it is by indulging in just enough pleasure to avoid unpleasure, either by becoming abstinent or consumptive, that we maintain our experience of goodwill.
What is remarkable, Lacan notes in his foreword to de Sade, is that Freud did not find it necessary to explicitly refer to this principle as an ethical prerogative. The only reason we can find for this, Lacan claims, is the 19th century obsession with the theme of “happiness in evil.”
The “happiness in evil” – or, as we should say, happiness in the will – has its precursor in Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, which was published eight years prior to de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom.3 To Lacan, de Sade subverts the Enlightenment directive inaugurated by Kant, and it is as such that it is possible to say that de Sade offers the truth of Kant’s Critique.
This “happiness in evil” becomes de Sade’s Being-Supreme-in-Wickedness. Recall that this is quite a different notion of perversion – of which the Marquis figures as the first and predominant example in Lacan – from that which reigned in the “literary” epoch, i.e., prior to Freud, as well as from Freud’s own inflection of the term. Perversion is no longer reducible to a catalogue of abominations – whipping, homosexuality, you name it – such as was the case prior to Freud, nor to a more select line of such – Freud famously excluded homosexual love from the list, while retaining sadomasochism. Lacan would draw the conclusion of Freud’s tentative first step by positing that perversion is a position, and specifically a location in relation to the phallus.
The novelty and force of this perspective should become clear to those who study the present volume. It is not a clinical attempt, nor the final word on a philosophy of mind without psychoanalysis. Rather, it should be regarded as situated in between these two domains, and with eyes to both.
See Lacan 1989: 55-75. It was first commissioned as a preface to a 15-volume collection of de Sade’s works published in 1963. When the editors would not print it, Lacan instead published the text as a review of the collection, in the journal Critique.↩
In “Two Principles of Mental Functioning,” first published in 1911, Freud contrasted the pleasure principle with the reality principle (1958: 219).↩
Kant’s Critique was first published in German in 1788.↩
- List of Figures ix
- A Manifesto to Rock Philosophy xi
- Introduction: Thinking, knowing, writing xiii
- Chapter 1: Volcanic origins 1
- Plato and inspiration 3
- The flash of insight: Heraclitus 4
- Parmenides and the demand of the phallus 9
- Into the volcano: Empedocles and Ulven 14
- Chapter 2: The time of the rock 23
- Hegel and nomadic time 25
- Time of the commodity 32
- The becoming of no-time 36
- Chapter 3: Knowing the rock 43
- Truth and psychoanalysis 45
- The advent and the gift 50
- Perception and forgetting 56
- Chapter 4: The art of the rock 61
- Reason, freedom and the Absolute 62
- The specificity of poetry: Miłosz and Ulven 67
- Conceptual art and the return to philosophy 75
- Chapter 5: Particles and universals 81
- Across the multiverse 82
- Passages 88
- The Other silence 97
- Afterword: Outside the rock 103
- Bibliography 113
- Index 119
Manifesto to Rock Philosophy
Rock Philosophy – a philosophy of the rock: the indeterminacy embedded in this book’s name lays open a prepositional ambiguity. Ours is a philosophy that concerns the rock; it is about the rock and takes the rock as its subject. However, it is also a philosophy that emerges from the rock: it comes out of the rock, in much the same manner as the green clad daughter of the Mountain King in Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt emerged out of and remained intrinsic to the rock that had engendered her.
In so far as the rock is the subject of this volume it is the rock that speaks: we are the ones giving it voice. When we regard it as the object of our philosophy we entertain two distinct possibilities. We implicate the rock both as an object we hold in our hand – a rock that stimulates our tactile and visual capacities, a rock we can sense, weigh, carry or throw – and as the rock we walk on and that we have come to refer to as our home. In the other hand “rock” as a verb incites us to imagine the power art and poetry have to rock philosophy, a ship on a stormy sea, or a tired child that needs sleep.
When we say that it is time to rock philosophy we acknowledge all these senses: this is a philosophy that can be launched as a projectile, and yet it can also provide us with a sense of belonging; it is a philosophy that has been moved by art and poetry, and it can shift the very grounds of our thought; and in the end there is a time for philosophy to close its eyes and avert the light of knowledge. There will be a time to rest and sleep.
This is provisionally a philosophy that is as much about the rock – a rock, any rock, our own rock, our planet – as it is about the shape of a voice engendered and enveloped by our planet: it is essentially an expression of what the 20th century philosopher Martin Heidegger referred to as our thrownness. We are hurled into our lives. There are conditions to our existence that are beyond our grasp and outside our potentiality of control. And yet we are charged with our lives. We do our best to cope with and nurture existence within our capacities. We are limited by the conditions of our making and these conditions are not of our own making. And in the end our limitations become our project.
It is within these bounds that the present volume is laid down. It is an attempt to provide the grounds for a thinking that acknowledges our acts as formative for our being and as necessary compliments to our non-acts, our meditations and our thinking.
- Preface v
- 1. Introduction: making meaning of sports 1
- I Cultural theory as martial arts: a toolbox for cultural analysis 19
- 2. Signiﬁcation: mediation and sites of meaning 25
- 3. Bourdieu, discourse, sport: concepts and methods 41
- 4. Nationalisms: theory and actuality 83
- II The body of sport: producing nature, practicing nations 109
- 5. Nations at sport: the epic body 113
- 6. Case: South Africa in the 1998 Football World Cup 137
- 7. National, authentic, excessive: toward a globalised body of sports 153
- III Beyond the couch: truth and silence 169
- 8. Dressage and illusio: desire and spectacular sport 173
- 9. The limits of Bourdieu: a passive subject? 185
- Conclusion: The national sports imaginary 199
- Notes 211
- Bibliography 213
- Appendix: Key concepts and arguments 225
- List of acronyms 231
- List of ﬁgures 233
- Full table of contents 235
We should now consider the possibility of critique of Pierre Bourdieu’s doctrine. Already during his life-time, a corpus of work and a network of scholars formed that were devoted not only to the letter of Bourdieu’s scholarship but also to the spirit of his thought. It should be clear to any serious student of social dynamics that such engagements are, in addition to a matter of explicating the correct implication and entailment of the master’s thought, also a question of position-taking and attempts to secure specific forms of recognition.
As with any doxa, such schools of thought as the one espoused by Bourdieu’s followers – however annointed as axiomatic by the master in his living days – maintain the truths and strengths of their teacher, but also his faults and weaknesses. Schopenhauer reminded us that there may be good reason to praise a living scholar – such as Schopenhauer’s model Immanuel Kant once was – for his achievements, but that those reasons are no longer valid when the master has passed away:
Towards a living writer such indulgence is needed, for human frailty cannot endure even the most just refutation of an error, unless tempered by soothing and flattery, and hardly even then; and a teacher of the age and benefactor of mankind deserves at least that the human weakness he also has should be indulged, so that he may not be caused pain. But he who is dead has thrown off this weakness; his merit stands firm; time will purify it more and more from all exaggeration and detraction. His mistakes must be separated from it, rendered harmless, and then given over to oblivion.
This attitude is appropriate in our apporach also to Bourdieu’s scholarship today. In this spirit the following text is submitted in respectful veneration of the master’s work, but with the express purpose of engaging it in a critique and to expose a part of his scholarship that was not sufficiently grounded in knowledge of how signification is produced and maintained.
This page was last modified: September 3, 2023