Sunday, January 02, 2011

descent time

Holidays away from a scheduled world cause happy warps in lived time. It’s like 2 weeks ago that the past 11 days began. Posting a story 22 hours ago, anchored by a party 48 hours earlier, seems 4 days ago.

It’s time to forget, as I’m back in HyperNet City tomorow, but not possibly of it all.

Sherry Turkle’s new book, Alone Together, evidently details the pathos of the social networking planet that keeps everything pervasively vacuous for maximal marketing effect. Do I want to read about that? No. But one should. Facebook today was valued by investors at $50 billion. The only reason could be that Facebook is a marketer’s dream. Know what? I’ve been on the web from the beginning, but I’m not on Facebook (not actively; I have one of the earliest accounts, but don’t use it). You can know nothing more about me on the web than I’ve chosen.

The ideology of marketing promotes a technology of the self (which Foucault warned decades ago; and Heidegger before that posed “the question of technology” as heir to the Question of Being).

It’s the new nihilism: the bravado and obsessiveness of social networking. And this week, Heidegger’s student, philosopher Burt Dreyfus, here in Berkeley (with whom I spent a good deal of time disagreeing years ago about Heidegger), is publishing a trade book (i.e., general audience book), All Things Shining, with Sean Kelly, Chair of the Philosophy Dept. at Harvard (here’s a recent column by him from the Times), that’s evidently a response to such nihilism, typified (ch. 2 of their book) by “David Foster Wallace’s nihilism” (which is the chapter title). They want to capture the attention of Millennials, in terms of Great Literature, like Herman Melville and I-don’t-know-who-else; I just bought it yesterday, and it’s not near the top of my list (impossible list), but interesting that two very different books come out at the same time overtly addressing technological nihilism. (Here’s a review of their book.)

Meanwhile, I’m distracted by more interesting things that distract me from what I’m “supposed” to do: I’m not supposed to try to integrate 7 Sunday NY Times articles on forgotten importance of criticism, which I’m dying to do.

Or what about Ashbery’s translation of Baudelaire from the recent NY Review of Books or the review of Tony Judt’s last book of autobiographical candors written as the professor of European intellectual history was withering away from ALS?

What matters?

The scheduled world returns tomorrow because the scheduled world returns tomorrow. My rampant enthusiasms are mine alone.

Your letter, written with such care, dwelling to dwelling, meets little time for equal care in return.

Then there are those agendaed issues of mine, re: surfaces as emergent from depths, things to say about the nature of relationships and friendship, how we are a plural psyche with aspirational audacities no less mindful of pragmatics.

How does creative fidelity meld with empathic time in us?

What may be the virtue of Literary (capped) presence, textual intimacy (again), and imaginative life letting itself be engulfed by a flesh of words in the body of an authorial communion?

What about intrinsic value and generative feeling at heights of what their minds can be brought together to do?

The scheduled world returns, and my pretentiousness here will be dissolved into the common ground.

No loss to anyone but me.

So sad.