Personal Nonsense.

Imagine an introductory conversation: 

Hi, what’s your name? – Mikhail Emelianov.

Ah, where are you from? – I’m from New Jersey.

No, I mean where are you originally from? – Um… Eastern Europe, what about you? 

I’m from Michigan – No, I mean where are you originally from? 

?!  [followed by awkwardness]

Poking Nature (With Proper Instruments)

While reading the latest output concerning the doomed conditions that, according to Larval Subjects, philosophy is unfortunate enough to find itself in, I could not help but think about not so much the reasons for such bleak portrayal, but about who is to blame. Although Levi’s target is a vicious group of correlationists and other marginal criminals, their clear leader and spiritual guide is Kant. However, the issues discussed – nature of knowledge, where does one begin one’s inquiry, method, logic etc etc – seems to have been around much much longer than Kant and I think if the old crusty Prussian is to blame for things, he should clearly share the guilt with the like of Francis Bacon. Continue reading

Derrida and the Professors.

In his famous pronouncement against the future professors who will inevitably take interest in his journals, Kierkegaard writes:


That I shall acquire a certain renown, surely not even my bitterest enemy will deny. But I begin now to wonder whether I shan’t become famous in a genre quite different from the one I had envisaged, whether I shan’t become famous as a naturalist, in that I have made discoveries or at least delivered a very considerable contribution to the natural history of parasites. The parasites I have in mind are priests and professors, these greedy and virulently self-reproductive parasites which even have the shamelessness (which is more than other parasites have) to want to be of service to those they live off. (XI 2 A 277)

Not very nice, yet ultimately a prophetic observation that is cited by professors as a proof of the greatness of their subject, cited sometimes with a kind of self-depreciation that is considered to be a good enough penance for the thankless job of studying such an ungrateful thinker – here we are editing, collecting, and publishing his multiple journals, essays and books, and yet he dares to accuse us of being parasites and useless idlers! However abusive Kierkegaard is, especially at the end of his life, the image of a parasite is hard to dismiss in light of all the secondary literature on Kierkegaard…  Take the old discussion of the status of the secondary literature – is it really fair to the thinker to write a commentary after commentary when he himself explicitly mocks the idea and takes it to be a gross misrepresentation of his work? On one hand, one could claim that the very title of an “expert” on Kierkegaard should be so ironic and disconcerting that various reports of suicides among Kierkegaard professors should be a norm in the news. On the other hand, so what if Kierkegaard ridiculed his future experts – we don’t have to listen to his judgments, because he clearly wanted to be studied, wanted to be the object of future admiration and here is the proof from his writings etc etc. Think about someone closer to our time, someone like Derrida – can we think of his “disciples” as betraying the thought of the Master by producing a stream of secondary literature I have previously described as “derridalogy”? Continue reading

Naji Hakim, or Dissonance Scares Me.

This afternoon, after it snowed in my anytown U.S.A and I decided to stay in, or rather exchange a usual stroll outside for the warmth of a concert hall, I had a chance to hear organist Jörg Abbing perform a piece by Naji Hakim of whom I knew next to nothing. The program included a piece by Olivier Messian and following it a piece by Hakim called Le Tombeau d’Olivier Messiaen. I suppose it is an interesting move, especially since Hakim followed Messiaen as an organist at Eglise de la Trinité, as I learned after the concert when I googled Hakim. Even though I find all things modern pretty engaging and either thoroughly enjoyable or, at the very least, tolerable. Hakim’s Le Tombeau, however, opens with a series of such loud and dissonant chords that I was literally scared (if a strange physical sensation is any indication and thus a justification of the use of ‘literally’) – I believe that it would be an ultimate frightening exprience if a haunted house installed an organ and just repeatedly played some dissonant music with creepy improvisations and tinkerings that would explode into more dissonance. There would be absolutely no need for skeletons, masks, spooky lights and even pumpkins – a sort of Halloween in its pure and natural state… well, maybe with some candy.

Strangely enough, Hakim’s website contains this quotation – “Min sjæl ophøjer Herren”! – which, it claims, comes from Luke 1:46 but I have no idea which language it is in. According to a small bio Naji Hakim comes from Beirut and is now residing in London – it looks very Scandinavian or Northern European at the least. Puzzling… My other musical adventure this weekend was my courageous attempt not to fall asleep while at the performance of Elgar’s First Symphony – my Lord, how utterly boring and forgettable it was! I am usually the first one to throw a condescending and judgmental look at anyone who dares to nap during the performance: “vy, vy must yu sleep at ze performans!” – I yell, but yesterday I was very much on the verge of dozing off. And to think that early critics of Elgar’s symphony accused it of having “too many themes” – yes, too many very boring and whiny themes that kept coming back to haunt my struggle with Morpheus. Anyway, I believe these casual observations create an adequate illusion of my sophistication and awesomeness – mission accomplished!

UPDATE I: Some 40 videos about Arnold Schönberg are posted on YouTube by Schönberg Archive here. A nice way to kill the rest of this long Sunday.