Is It Just Me Or…?

Is it just me or does the question “Is it just me or…?” usually solicits a rather obvious “It is just you” response? I realize we all want to be trend-setters or, at the very least, trend-spotters, but in reality it seems that most of our observations are banal, minute and rather boring. I miss Hegel’s grandiose style today, I’m going to go read some Logic or something.

6 thoughts on “Is It Just Me Or…?

  1. I agree with your sentiment. So much that one reads suffers the post-modern obsession with sound-bite thinking and statements of the obvious. There is nothing so refreshing in times of sheer boredom to read Zizek, a novel by Umberto Eco, Hegel, Heidegger, etc. To “live the examined life” seems increasingly anachronistic in these times of instant everything and all things digital.

    So, it’s not just you. Me too.

    • Why do you think that is? I mean I often go back to Hegel’s Phenomenology’s peculiar fate (a book written in circumstances of Hegel’s struggle to find a teaching job or generally to figure out what to do with his life, and yet a book that defined many generations of students of philosophy, or at least those who actually read it) – clearly, having something published was essential, but at the same time there’s a sense of “just writing” that pervades the book, as if there’s a kind of excess of thought that simply needs to be written down, as opposed to what most of us do (me including) which is figuring out what to write about and how to get it published etc etc. All of that produces mediocrity, boredom, banality and all sorts of nasty things one would not waste one’s time reading if one didn’t have to.

      • A Professor of mine once said that the Phenomenology would have been a very different book had Hegel had time to edit it. There’s something to be said for one’s hand being forced by Events and not solely the dicates of the academy. Not that the book was immune to humdrum pressures, as you note; if I remember correctly Hegel was known in Jena as the ‘poverty Professor’ because of the lack of students attending his lectures and paying his fee. Do these factors perhaps combine, I wonder, to make a ‘nothing to lose’ kind of writing that one wouldn’t find today?

      • Do you think in the same spirit it would be fair to say that the first Critique would have also been a very different book had Kant less time to edit and rewrite it? I mean a professor of mine used to argue that everything Kant wrote after it was a kind of desperate attempt to make it complete and perfect, including the last unpublished book. Were he to just let it go and deal with the criticism after the first 1781 edition, maybe we’d be dealing with a different Kant today?

        I think “nothing to lose” writing would be pretty interesting and scanning through a list of philosophy’s “classic texts” (“classic” in the true sense of the word, not in the sense of discovering that the blog you have hysterically erased last year is still accessible and then posting some selections from it as “Classic Perverse Egalitarianism”) one gets an idea that a very small number of author has any real academic ambition to begin with – is academic ambition/careerism killing our field?

      • Interesting thoughts re. Kant. Others are probably in a better position than me to say.

        And yes, best to refrain from publishing a “Classic” Perverse Egalitarianism in which you try to show you were right all along whilst rehearsing undignified, resentful snarks at critics (or is that “punks”?) 😉

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