Tuesday, September 13, 2016

More Wilde

Here are a couple of pieces I mentioned in our discussion of Oscar Wilde last week for your delight and edification.

Preface to the Picture of Dorian Gray

The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies.

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

 

Phrases and Philosophies for Use in the Instruction of the Young

Bibliographic Notes: First published in the 1894 December (and only) issue of the Oxford student magazine The Chameleon.

The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.

Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.

If the poor only had profiles there would be no difficulty in solving the problem of poverty.

Those who see any difference between soul and body have neither.

A really well-maded buttonhole is the only link between Art and Nature.

Religions die when they are proved to be true. Science is the record of dead religions.

The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.

Nothing that actually occurs is of the smallest importance.

Dullness is the coming of age of seriousness.

In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential. In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.

If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.

Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness.

It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.

No crime is vulgar, but all vulgarity is crime. Vulgarity is the conduct of others.

Only the shallow know themselves.

Time is a waste of money.

One should always be a little improbable.

There is a fatality about all good resolutions. They are invariably made too soon.

The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated.

To be premature is to be perfect.

Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right and wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development.

Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

A truth ceases to be true when more than one person believes in it.

In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer.

Greek dress was in its essence inartistic.
Nothing should reveal the body but the body.

One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.

It is only the superficial qualities that last. Man's deeper nature is soon found out.

Industry is the root of all ugliness.

The ages live in history through their anachronisms.

It is only the gods who taste of death. Apollo has passed away, but Hyacinth, whom men say he slew, lives on. Nero and Narcissus are always with us.

The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.

The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth.

Only the great masters of style ever succeed in being obscure.

There is something tragic about the enormous number of young men there are in England at the present moment who start life with perfect profiles, and end by adopting some useful profession.

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.

Selections from Nietzsche's The Gay Science


124.

In the Horizon of the Infinite. We have left the land and have gone aboard ship! We have broken down the bridge behind us, nay, more, the land behind us! Well, little ship! look out! Beside thee is the ocean; it is true it does not always roar, and sometimes it spreads out like silk and gold and a gentle reverie. But times will come when thou wilt feel that it is infinite, and that there is nothing more frightful than infinity. Oh, the poor bird that felt itself free, and now strikes against the walls of this cage! Alas, if home sickness for the land should attack thee, as if there had been more freedom there, and there is no “land ” any longer!

125.

The Madman. Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: “I seek God! I seek God! ” As there were many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement. Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated? the people cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed them with his glances. “Where is God gone? ” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him — you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Back wards, sideways, forewards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console our selves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife, who will wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater event, and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any history hitherto!” Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in pieces and was extinguished. “I come too early,” he then said, “I am not yet at the right time. This prodigious event is still on its way, and is travelling, it has not yet reached men’s ears. Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star, and yet they have done it!” It is further stated that the madman made his way into different churches on the same day, and there intoned his Requiem aeternam deo. When led out and called to account, he always gave the reply: “What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs and monuments of God?”

240.

On the Sea–Shore. I would not build myself a house (it is an element of my happiness not to be a house-owner!). If I had to do so, however, I should build it, like many of the Romans, right into the sea, I should like to have some secrets in common with that beautiful monster.

276.

For the New Year. I still live, I still think; I must still live, for I must still think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. To-day everyone takes the liberty of expressing his wish and his favourite thought: well, I also mean to tell what I have wished for myself today, and what thought first crossed my mind this year, a thought which ought to be the basis, the pledge and the sweetening of all my future life! I want more and more to perceive the necessary characters in things as the beautiful: I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only & yea-sayer!

277.

Personal Providence. —— There is a certain climax in life, at which, notwithstanding all our freedom, and however much we may have denied all directing reason and goodness in the beautiful chaos of existence, we are once more in great danger of intellectual bondage, and have to face our hardest test. For now the thought of a personal Providence first presents itself before us with its most persuasive force, and has the best of advocates, apparentness, in its favour, now when it is obvious that all and everything that happens to us always turns out for the best. The life of every day and of every hour seems to be anxious for nothing else but always to prove this proposition anew; let it be what it will, bad or good weather, the loss of a friend, a sickness, a calumny, the non-receipt of a letter, the spraining of one’s foot, a glance into a shop-window, a counter argument, the opening of a book, a dream, a deception: it shows itself immediately, or very soon afterwards, as something “not permitted to be absent,” it is full of profound significance and utility precisely for us! Is there a more dangerous temptation to rid ourselves of the belief in the Gods of Epicurus, those careless, unknown Gods, and believe in some anxious and mean Divinity, who knows personally every little hair on our heads, and feels no disgust in rendering the most wretched services? Well I mean in spite of all this! we want to leave the Gods alone (and the serviceable genii likewise), and wish to content ourselves with the assumption that our own practical and theoretical skilfulness in explaining and suitably arranging events has now reached its highest point. We do not want either to think too highly of this dexterity of our wisdom, when the wonderful harmony which results from playing on our instrument sometimes surprises us too much: a harmony which sounds too well for us to dare to ascribe it to ourselves. In fact, now and then there is one who plays with us beloved Chance: he leads our hand occasionally, and even the all-wisest Providence could not devise any finer music than that of which our foolish hand is then capable.

290.

One Thing is Needful. To “give style” to one’s character that is a grand and a rare art! He who surveys all that his nature presents in its strength and in its weakness, and then fashions it into an ingenious plan, until everything appears artistic and rational, and even the weaknesses enchant the eye exercises that admirable art. Here there has been a great amount of second nature added, there a portion of first nature has been taken away: in both cases with long exercise and daily labour at the task. Here the ugly, which does not permit of being taken away, has been concealed, there it has been reinterpreted into the sublime. Much of the vague, which re fuses to take form, has been reserved and utilised for the perspectives: it is meant to give a hint of the remote and immeasurable. In the end, when the work has been completed, it is revealed how it was the constraint of the same taste that organised and fashioned it in whole and in part: whether the taste was good or bad is of less importance than one thinks, it is sufficient that it was a taste! It will be the strong imperious natures which experience their most refined joy in such constraint, in such confinement and perfection under their own law; the passion of their violent volition lessens at the sight of all disciplined nature, all conquered and ministering nature: even when they have palaces to build and gardens to lay out, it is not to their taste to allow nature to be free. It is the reverse with weak characters who have not power over themselves, and hate the restriction of style: they feel that if this repugnant constraint were laid upon them, they would necessarily become vulgarised under it: they become slaves as soon as they serve, they hate service. Such intellects they may be intellects of the first rank are always concerned with fashioning and interpreting themselves and their surroundings as free nature wild, arbitrary, fantastic, confused and surprising: and it is well for them to do so, because only in this manner can they please themselves! For one thing is needful: namely, that man should attain to satisfaction with himself be it but through this or that fable and artifice: it is only then that man’s aspect is at all endurable! He who is dissatisfied with himself is ever ready to avenge himself on that account: we others will be his victims, if only in having always to endure his ugly aspect. For the aspect of the ugly makes one mean and sad.

300.

Prelude to Science. Do you believe then that the sciences would have arisen and grown up if the sorcerers, alchemists, astrologers and witches had not been their forerunners; those who, with their promisings and foreshadowings, had first to create a thirst, a hunger, and a taste for hidden and forbidden powers? Yea, that infinitely more had to be promised than could ever be fulfilled, in order that something might be fulfilled in the domain of knowledge? Perhaps the whole of religion, also, may appear to some distant age as an exercise and a prelude, in like manner as the prelude and preparation of science here exhibit themselves, though not at all practised and regarded as such. Perhaps religion may have been the peculiar means for enabling individual men to enjoy but once the entire self-satisfaction of a God and all his self-redeeming power. Indeed! one may ask would man have learned at all to get on the tracks of hunger and thirst for himself, and to extract satiety and fullness out of himself, without that religious schooling and preliminary history? Had Prometheus first to fancy that he had stolen the light, and that he did penance for the theft, in order finally to discover that he had created the light, in that he had longed for the light, and that not only man, but also God, had been the work of his hands and the clay in his hands? All mere creations of the creator? just as the illusion, the theft, the Caucasus, the vulture, and the whole tragic Promethean of all thinkers?

341.

The Heaviest Burden. What if a demon” crept after thee into thy loneliest loneliness some day or night, and said to thee: “This life, as thou livest it at present, and hast lived it, thou must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh, and all the unspeakably small and great in thy life must come to thee again, and all in the same series and sequence and similarly this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and similarly this moment, and I myself. The eternal sand-glass of existence will ever be turned once more, and thou with it, thou speck of dust!”

Wouldst thou not throw thyself down and gnash thy teeth, and curse the demon that so spake? Or hast thou once experienced a tremendous moment in which thou wouldst answer him: “Thou art a God, and never did I hear anything so divine!” If that thought acquired power over thee as thou art, it would transform thee, and perhaps crush thee; the question with regard to all and everything: “Dost thou want this once more, and also for innumerable times?” would lie as the heaviest burden upon thy activity! Or, how wouldst thou have to become favourably inclined to thyself and to life, so as to long for nothing more ardently than for this last eternal sanctioning and sealing?

343.

What our Cheerfulness Signifies. The most important of more recent events — that “God is dead,” that the belief in the Christian God has become unworthy of belief — already begins to cast its first shadows over Europe. To the few at least whose eye, whose suspecting glance, is strong enough and subtle enough for this drama, some sun seems to have set, some old, profound confidence seems to have changed into doubt: our old world must seem to them daily more darksome, distrustful, strange and “old.” In the main, however, one may say that the event itself is far too great, too remote, too much beyond most people’s power of apprehension, for one to suppose that so much as the report of it could have reached them; not to speak of many who already knew what had taken place, and what must all collapse now that this belief had been undermined, because so much was built upon it, so much rested on it, and had become one with it: for example, our entire European morality. This lengthy, vast and uninterrupted process of crumbling, destruction, ruin and overthrow which is now imminent: who has realised it sufficiently today to have to stand up as the teacher and herald of such a tremendous logic of terror, as the prophet of a period of gloom and eclipse, the like of which has probably never taken place on earth before? . . . Even we, the born riddle-readers, who wait as it were on the mountains posted twixt today and tomorrow, and engirt by their contradiction, we, the firstlings and premature children of the coming century, into whose sight especially the shadows which must forthwith envelop Europe should already have come how is it that even we, with out genuine sympathy for this period of gloom, contemplate its advent without any personal solicitude or fear? Are we still, perhaps, too much under the immediate effects of the event and are these effects, especially as regards our selves, perhaps the reverse of what was to be expected not at all sad and depressing, but rather like a new and indescribable variety of light, happiness, relief, enlivenment, encouragement, and dawning day? . . . In fact, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel ourselves irradiated as by a new dawn by the report that the “old God is dead”; our hearts overflow with gratitude, astonishment, presentiment and expectation. At last the horizon seems open once more, granting even that it is not bright; our ships can at last put out to sea in face of every danger; every hazard is again permitted to the discerner; the sea, our sea, again lies open before us; perhaps never before did such an “open sea” exist.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Our Syllabus

"The Point Is To Change It"

September 1-December 8, 2016, MCR, Thursdays, 9-11.45AM
Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu
Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/
Rough Grade Breakdown (subject to contingencies): Attendance/Participation 15%; Reading Notebook 15%; Precis, 2-3pp; 15%; Figurative Reading, 2-3pp; 15%; Final Paper, 6pp. 40%

_______________________________
Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides free tutoring to all SFAI students on any assignment or project. Because everyone benefits from discussing and developing their work in an individualized setting, SFAI recommends that all students make use of the Academic Resource Center. Students can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting https://tutortrac.sfai.edu (username is the first part of your SFAI email address; password is your last name). The Center is open throughout the semester (beginning after the add/drop period) from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday in the lower level of the Chestnut Street campus (at the Francisco Street entrance), with extended hours in the Residence Halls and at the Graduate Campus. Students are also welcome to drop by the Center any time during open hours to make use of the ARC’s writing reference library, computers, and study spaces.

Accessibility Accommodations

SFAI has a commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; to provide equality of access for qualified students with disabilities; and to provide accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services that will specifically address those functional limitations of the disability which adversely affects equal educational opportunity. SFAI will assist qualified students with disabilities in securing such appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. The Accessibility Services Office at SFAI aims to promote self-awareness, self determination, and self-advocacy for students through our policies and procedures. In the case of any complaint related to disability matters, a student may access the student grievance procedures; however, complaints regarding requests for accommodation are resolved pursuant to Section IV – Process for Requests for Accommodations: Eligibility, Determination and Appeal. The Accessibility Services Office is located on the Chestnut Campus in the Student Affairs Office and can be reached at accessiblity@sfai.edu.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual, artistic, and personal integrity of SFAI. At SFAI we value all aspects of the creative process, freedom of expression, risk-taking, and experimentation that adhere to the fundamental value of honesty in the making of one’s academic and studio work and in relationship to others and their work. Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic dishonesty. If a student is unclear about appropriate academic conduct in relationship to a particular situation, assignment, or requirement, the student should consult with the instructor of the course, Department Chair, Program Directors, or the Dean of Students.

Forms of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words, ideas, or information. At SFAI academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation (6.1; MLA Handbook, Joseph Gibaldi ch.2). Students are advised to seek out this guideline in the Academic Support Center, to ask faculty when they are in doubt about standards, and to recognize they are ultimately responsible for proper citation. In the studio, appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention complicate attempts to codify forms of acknowledgment and are often defined by disciplinary histories and practices and are best examined, with the faculty, in relationship to the specific studio course.

Cheating

Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized information including: looking at or using information from another person’s paper/exam; buying or selling quizzes, exams, or papers; possessing, referring to, or employing opened textbooks, notes, or other devices during a quiz or exam. It is the responsibility of all students to consult with their faculty, in a timely fashion, concerning what types of study aids and materials are permissible in their specific course.

Falsification and Fabrication

Falsification and fabrication are the use of identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the faculty involved, or the use of identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the later course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized by their faculty to do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

Unfair academic advantage is interference—including theft, concealment, defacement or destruction of other students’ works, resources, or material—for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage.

Noncompliance with Course Rules

The violation of specific course rules as outlined in the syllabus by the faculty or otherwise provided to the student.

________________________________________

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

September

Week One

1 Administrative Introduction | Course Introduction.

Week Two

8 Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns; Oscar Wilde, "Soul of Man Under Socialism"; W.E.B. DuBois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings"

Week Three

15 Nietzsche: On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense; Selections from The Gay Science (posted on the blog -- scroll up for them), Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four

22 Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach; Marx on Idealism and Materialism
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital

Week Five

29 Walter Benjamin A Short History of Photography; Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry; Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered

October

Week Six

6 Excerpts from Sigmund Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2,  Storytelling; 3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis; Sigmund Freud, Fetishism

Week Seven

13 Roland Barthes, Mythologies

Week Eight

20 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle; Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies, Patriarchy Gets Funky from No Logo

Week Nine

27 Carpenter (dir.), They Live, In-Class Screening -- DEADLINE: You should have handed in your first short reading by now.

November

Week Ten

3 Frantz Fanon, selections from Black Skin, White Masks and Concerning Violence; Kobena Mercer, Racial Fetishism: The Photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe; Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Week Eleven

10 Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish, Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism
Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life; Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender

Week Twelve

17  William Burroughs, Immortality and "Coincidence"; Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto

Week Thirteen

24 Thanksgiving Holiday DEADLINE: You should have handed in your second short reading by now.

December

Week Fourteen

1 Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space; CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three); Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket!

Week Fifteen

8 Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs | Gayatri Spivak, selections from "Planetarity" (Posted onto the blog above.) DEADLINE: Hand in Final Essay and Reading Notebook

Course Objectives:

I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Nietzschean rhetoric/philology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Marx As "The Darwin of History"

In his 1888 Preface to The Communist Manifesto, Frederick Engels attributes to Marx a “proposition which, in my opinion, is destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology[.]” This proposition is as follows:

[I]n every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange, and the social organization necessarily following from it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained, the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiters and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these class struggles forms a series of evolutions in which, nowadays, a stage has been reached where the exploited and oppressed class -– the proletariat –- cannot attain its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class –- the bourgeoisie -– without, at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions and class struggles.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Syllabus for Critical Theory A, Fall 2015

"The Point Is To Change It"

September 1-December 8, 2015, Seminar Room 18, Tuesdays, 4.15-7.00
Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu
Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/
Rough Grade Breakdown (subject to contingencies): Attendance/Participation 12%; Notebook 12%; Precis 16%; Essay 1 30%; Essay 2 30%

_______________________________
Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) provides free tutoring to all SFAI students on any assignment or project. Because everyone benefits from discussing and developing their work in an individualized setting, SFAI recommends that all students make use of the Academic Resource Center. Students can make an appointment with a tutor by visiting https://tutortrac.sfai.edu (username is the first part of your SFAI email address; password is your last name). The Center is open throughout the semester (beginning after the add/drop period) from 10am to 4pm Monday through Friday in the lower level of the Chestnut Street campus (at the Francisco Street entrance), with extended hours in the Residence Halls and at the Graduate Campus. Students are also welcome to drop by the Center any time during open hours to make use of the ARC’s writing reference library, computers, and study spaces.

Accessibility Accommodations

SFAI has a commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations; to provide equality of access for qualified students with disabilities; and to provide accommodations, auxiliary aids, and services that will specifically address those functional limitations of the disability which adversely affects equal educational opportunity. SFAI will assist qualified students with disabilities in securing such appropriate accommodations, auxiliary aids and services. The Accessibility Services Office at SFAI aims to promote self-awareness, self determination, and self-advocacy for students through our policies and procedures. In the case of any complaint related to disability matters, a student may access the student grievance procedures; however, complaints regarding requests for accommodation are resolved pursuant to Section IV – Process for Requests for Accommodations: Eligibility, Determination and Appeal. The Accessibility Services Office is located on the Chestnut Campus in the Student Affairs Office and can be reached at accessiblity@sfai.edu.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct Policy

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual, artistic, and personal integrity of SFAI. At SFAI we value all aspects of the creative process, freedom of expression, risk-taking, and experimentation that adhere to the fundamental value of honesty in the making of one’s academic and studio work and in relationship to others and their work. Misunderstanding of the appropriate academic conduct will not be accepted as an excuse for academic dishonesty. If a student is unclear about appropriate academic conduct in relationship to a particular situation, assignment, or requirement, the student should consult with the instructor of the course, Department Chair, Program Directors, or the Dean of Students.

Forms of Academic Misconduct

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another’s words, ideas, or information. At SFAI academic writing must follow conventions of documentation and citation (6.1; MLA Handbook, Joseph Gibaldi ch.2). Students are advised to seek out this guideline in the Academic Support Center, to ask faculty when they are in doubt about standards, and to recognize they are ultimately responsible for proper citation. In the studio, appropriation, subversion, and other means of challenging convention complicate attempts to codify forms of acknowledgment and are often defined by disciplinary histories and practices and are best examined, with the faculty, in relationship to the specific studio course.

Cheating

Cheating is the use or attempted use of unauthorized information including: looking at or using information from another person’s paper/exam; buying or selling quizzes, exams, or papers; possessing, referring to, or employing opened textbooks, notes, or other devices during a quiz or exam. It is the responsibility of all students to consult with their faculty, in a timely fashion, concerning what types of study aids and materials are permissible in their specific course.

Falsification and Fabrication

Falsification and fabrication are the use of identical or substantially the same assignment to fulfill the requirements for two or more courses without the approval of the faculty involved, or the use of identical or substantially the same assignment from a previously completed course to fulfill requirements for another course without the approval of the instructor of the later course. Students are expected to create new work in specific response to each assignment, unless expressly authorized by their faculty to do otherwise.

Unfair Academic Advantage

Unfair academic advantage is interference—including theft, concealment, defacement or destruction of other students’ works, resources, or material—for the purpose of gaining an academic advantage.

Noncompliance with Course Rules

The violation of specific course rules as outlined in the syllabus by the faculty or otherwise provided to the student.

________________________________________

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

September

Week One

1 Administrative Introduction | Course Introduction.

Week Two

8 W.E.B. DuBois, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" | Oscar Wilde, "Soul of Man Under Socialism"

Week Three

15 Nietzsche: Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense
Selections from Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four

22 Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach
Marx on Idealism and Materialism
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital

Week Five

29 Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility
A Short History of Photography
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry
Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered

October

Week Six

6 Excerpts from Sigmund Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2,  Storytelling; 3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis.
Sigmund Freud, Fetishism

Week Seven

13 Roland Barthes, Mythologies

Week Eight

20 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies, Patriarchy Gets Funky from No Logo

Week Nine

27 Carpenter (dir.), They Live, In-Class Screening -- Hand in Mid-Term Essay

November

Week Ten

3 Frantz Fanon, selections from Black Skin, White Masks and Concerning Violence | Paul Gilroy, Race and the Right to be Human
Three weeks to revised precis posting deadline.

Week Eleven

10 Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish, Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism
Foucault, from History of Sexuality: We Other Victorians, Right of Death and Power Over Life
| Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence
Two weeks to revised precis posting deadline.

Week Twelve

17 Gayle Rubin, The Traffic in Women | Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
| Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
One week to revised precis posting deadline.

Week Thirteen

24 William Burroughs, Immortality and "Coincidence" | Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto
PRECIS must be posted online no later than today.

December

Week Fourteen

2 Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket!

Week Fifteen

8 Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs | Gayatri Spivak, selections from "Planetarity" (Posted onto the blog above.) Hand in Final Essay and Reading Notebook

Course Objectives:

I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Syllabus

Critical Theory A: "The Point Is To Change It"

Instructor: Dale Carrico, dcarrico@sfai.edu, ndaleca@gmail.com
Course Blog: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com
Fall 2014, August 27-December 2, T, 4.15-7pm, Studio 18, Chestnut

Attendance/Participation/In-Class Work, 10%; Reading Notebook, 30%; Precis, 20%; Twelve+ Comments, 10%; Final Paper, 30%. (Rough Basis for Final Grade, subject to contingencies)

Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One | August 26 -- Introductions

Week Two | September 2 -- Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Digression on the Ancients and the Moderns;
Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism; Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray; Phrases and Philosophies for the Instruction of the Young; Wilde on Trial

Week Three | September 9 -- Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense; and a few selections from The Gay Science; Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four | September 16 -- Marx and Engles, Theses on Feuerbach; Marx on Idealism and Materialism; Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital

Week Five | September 23 -- Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility and On Photography;
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry; Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered

Week Six | September 30 -- Roland Barthes, Mythologies;
Daniel Harris, The Futuristic

Week Seven | October 7 -- Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo

Week Eight | October 14 -- John Carpenter (dir.), "They Live," In-Class Screening and Discussion

Week Nine | October 21 -- Michel Foucault, from Discipline and Punish, Introduction, Docile Bodies, Panoptism Foucault, from The History of Sexuality, Volume One: We Other Victorians, on Power; Right of Death and Power over Life; Governmentality

Week Ten | October 28 -- Sigmund Freud, Fetishism
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema
Kobena Mercer, On Mapplethorpe

Week Eleven | November 4 -- Frantz Fanon, Selections from Black Skin, White Masks and Concerning Violence;
Hannah Arendt, Reflections on Violence

Week Twelve | November 11 -- William Burroughs, "Coincidence" and Immortality
Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto

Week Thirteen | November 18 -- Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
Carol Adams, Preface and On Beastliness and Solidarity

Week Fourteen | November 25 -- Thanksgiving Holiday

Week Fifteen | December 2 -- Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
David Harvey Fetishism of Technology;
Gayatri Spivak on Planetarity -- Final Paper Due (5-6pp.)

Course Objectives:

Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, the Birmingham School, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; the postwar biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault; and the emerging post-colonial, post-international, post-global planetarity of theory in an epoch of digital networked media formations and anthropogenic climate catastrophe.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fact/Value, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Interpretation, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical/Interpretative Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Our Syllabus, Fall 2013

"The Point Is To Change It"

Critical Theory A, Spring 2013
August 27-December 3, 2013
Seminar Room 18, Tuesdays, 4.15-7

Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu, ndaleca@gmail.com

Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/

Approximate Grade Breakdown: Attendance/Participation 15%; Reading Notebook 15%; Precis Post 10%; Essay 1 30%; Essay 2 30%

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

Week One | August 27

Introductions

Week Two | September 3

Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism; Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray; Phrases and Philosophies for the Instruction of the Young; Wilde on Trial

Week Three | September 10

Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extramoral Sense
Ecce Homo: Preface -- Why I Am So Wise -- Why I Am So Clever -- Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four | September 17

Marx and Engles, Theses on Feuerbach
Marx on Idealism and Materialism
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital

Week Five | September 24

Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry
Adorno, The Culture Industry Reconsidered

Week Six | October 1

Roland Barthes, Mythologies
Daniel Harris, The Futuristic

Week Seven | October 8

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein, Taking On the Brand Bullies, Patriarchy Gets Funky from No Logo

Week Eight | October 15

John Carpenter (dir.), "They Live," In-Class Screening -- First Essay Due (5-6pp.)

Week Nine | October 22

Sigmund Freud, Fetishism; Psychoanalytic Notes Upon An Autobiographical Account of A Case of Paranoia, "Dr. Schreber"
Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Week Ten | October 29

Kobena Mercer, On Mapplethorpe
Frantz Fanon, Selections from Black Skin, White Masks; Concerning Violence
Paul Gilroy, Race and the Right to be Human

Week Eleven | November 5

William Burroughs, "Coincidence" and Immortality
Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto

Week Twelve | November 12

Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender
Gayatri Spivak, Translation As Culture and excerpts from "Planetarity."
Carol Adams, Preface and On Beastliness and Solidarity

Week Thirteen | November 19

David Harvey Fetishism of Technology
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter One)
Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket!

Week Fourteen | November 26 | Thanksgiving Holiday

Week Fifteen | December 3

Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs
Bruno Latour, A Plea for Earthly Science; Making Things Public -- Second Essay Due (5-6pp.)

Course Objectives:

Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Syllabus

"The Point Is To Change It"

Critical Theory A, Spring 2013
January 22-May 7, 2013
Seminar Room 18, Tuesdays, 9.00-11.45

Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu

Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/

Approximate Grade Breakdown: Attendance/Participation 15%; Reading Notebook 15%; Precis Post 10%; Essay 1 30%; Essay 2 30%

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

January

Week One

22 Administrative Introduction | Personal Introductions.
Week Two

29 Course Introduction | Oscar Wilde, "Soul of Man Under Socialism"

February

Week Three

5 Nietzsche: Ecce Homo
Preface
Why I Am So Wise
Why I Am So Clever
Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

Week Four
12 -- Marx on Idealism and Materialism
-- Marx on Commodity Fetishism, from Capital

Week Five

19 Walter Benjamin, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" | Adorno and Horkheimer, "The Culture Industry"

Week Six

26 Sigmund Freud, Doctor Schreber (Handout)

March

Week Seven

5 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Purchase or Check Out Whole Book!

Week Eight

12 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle | Naomi Klein, No Logo One and Two
Week Nine

19 Spring Break

Week Ten
26 Carpenter (dir.), They Live, In-Class Screening

Hand in Mid-Term Essay

April

Week Eleven
2 William Burroughs, "Immortality" and "Coincidence" | Valerie Solanas, "SCUM Manifesto"

Week Twelve

9 Frantz Fanon, selections from Black Skin, White Masks

Week Thirteen

16 Continuing Fanon, Concerning Violence and Hannah Arendt, "On Violence" | Must Eichmann Hang? and The Human Condition, Section 33 (Handout)

Week Fourteen

23 Workshopping Final Papers -- Generating a Strong Thesis, Anticipating Objections, Close Reading As Support

Week Fifteen

30 Continuing Hannah Arendt, Conquest of Space | CS Lewis Abolition of Man | Slavoj Zizek Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket

May

Week Sixteen

7 Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” | Bruno Latour, A Plea for Earthly Science, and Conclusions

Course Objectives:

Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our Syllabus

"The Point Is To Change It"

Critical Theory A, Spring 2012
June 18-August 10
Seminar Room 18, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9.30-12.30

Instructor: Dale Carrico; dcarrico@sfai.edu

Course Web-Site: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/

Approximate Grade Breakdown: Attendance/Participation 15%; Precis/Co-facilitation 20%; Essay 1 35%; Essay 2 40%

Provisional Schedule of Meetings:

June

Week One

19 Administrative Introduction | Personal Introductions.

21 on this day we are meeting in 16C
Course Introduction | Oscar Wilde, "Soul of Man Under Socialism"

Week Two

26 Nietzsche: Ecce Homo
Preface
Why I Am So Wise
Why I Am So Clever
Why I Am a Destiny (or Fatality)

28 -- Marx on Idealism and Materialism
-- Marx on Commodity Fetishism, from Capital

July

Week Three

3 Walter Benjamin, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" | Adorno and Horkheimer, "The Culture Industry"

5 Sigmund Freud, Doctor Schreber (Handout)

Week Four

10 Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Purchase or Check Out Whole Book!

12 Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle | Naomi Klein, No Logo One and Two
Week Five

17 Carpenter (dir.), They Live, In-Class Screening

Hand in Mid-Term Essay

19 on this day we are meeting in 16C
William Burroughs, "Immortality" and "Coincidence" | Valerie Solanas, "SCUM Manifesto"

Week Six

24 Frantz Fanon, selections from Black Skin, White Masks, and Concerning Violence

26 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (Handout)

Week Seven

31 Hannah Arendt, "On Violence" | Must Eichmann Hang? and The Human Condition, Section 33 (Handout)

August

2 Hannah Arendt, Conquest of Space | CS Lewis Abolition of Man

Week Eight

7 Donna Haraway, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” | Bruno Latour, A Plea for Earthly Science

9 Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek at the Peoples Mic. Hand in Final Essay

Course Objectives:

Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud.

Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Aura, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Judgment, Neoliberalism, Post-Colonialism, Scientificity, Spectacle, Textuality.

Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies.

Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hannah Arendt, From the Human Condition

We have seen that the animal laborans could be redeemed from its predicament of imprisonment in the ever-recurring cycle of the life process, of being forever subject to the necessity of labor and consumption, only through the mobilization of another human capacity, the capacity for making, fabricating, and producing of homo faber, who as a toolmaker not only eases the pain and trouble of laboring but also erects a world of durability. The redemption of life, which is sustained by labor, is worldliness, which is sustained by fabrication. We saw furthermore that homo faber could be redeemed from his predicament of meaninglessness, the "devaluation of all values," and the impossibility of finding valid standards in a world determined by the category of means and ends, only through the interrelated faculties of action and speech, which produce meaningful stories as naturally as fabrication produces use objects. If it were not outside the scope of these considerations, one could add the predicament of thought to these instances; for thought, too, is unable to "think itself" out of the predicaments which the very activity of thinking engenders. What in each of these instances saves man—man qua animal laborans, qua homo faber, qua thinker— is something altogether different; it comes from the outside—not, to be sure, outside of man, but outside of each of the respective activities. From the viewpoint of the animal laborans, it is like a miracle that it is also a being which knows of and inhabits a world; from the viewpoint of homo faber, it is like a miracle, like the revelation of divinity, that meaning should have a place in this world.

The case of action and action's predicaments is altogether different. Here, the remedy against the irreversibility and unpredictability of the process started by acting does not arise out of another and possibly higher faculty, but is one of the potentialities of action itself. The possible redemption from the predicament of irreversibility—of being unable to undo what one has done though one did not, and could not, have known what he was doing—is the faculty of forgiving. The remedy for unpredictability, for the chaotic uncertainty of the future, is contained in the faculty to make and keep promises. The two faculties belong together in so far as one of them, forgiving, serves to undo the deeds of the past, whose "sins" hang like Damocles' sword over every new generation; and the other, binding oneself through promises, serves to set up in the ocean of uncertainty, which the future is by definition, islands of security without which not even continuity, let alone durability of any kind, would be possible in the relationships between men.

Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer's apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell. Without being bound to the fulfillment of promises, we would never be able to keep our identities; we would be condemned to wander helplessly and without direction in the darkness of each man's lonely heart, caught in its contradictions and equivocalities —a darkness which only the light shed over the public realm through the presence of others, who confirm the identity between the one who promises and the one who fulfils, can dispel. Both faculties, therefore, depend on plurality, on the presence and acting of others, for no one can forgive himself and no one can fed bound by a promise made only to himself; forgiving and promising enacted in solitude or isolation remain without reality and can signify no more than a role played before one's self.

Since these faculties correspond so closely to the human condition of plurality, their role in politics establishes a diametrically different set of guiding principles from the "moral" standards inherent in the Platonic notion of rule. For Platonic rulership, whose legitimacy rested upon the domination of the self, draws its guiding principles—those which at the same time justify and limit power over others—from a relationship established between me and myself, so that the right and wrong of relationships with others are determined by attitudes toward one's self, until the whole of the public realm is seen in the image of "man writ large," of the right order between man's individual capacities of mind, soul, and body. The moral code, on the other hand, inferred from the faculties of forgiving and of. making promises, rests on experiences which nobody could ever have with himself, which, on the contrary, are entirely based on the presence of others. And just as the extent and modes of self-rule justify and determine rule over others—how one rules himself, he will rule others—thus the extent and modes of being forgiven and being promised determine the extent and modes in which one may be able to forgive himself or keep promises concerned only with himself.

Because the remedies against the enormous strength and resiliency inherent in action processes can function only under the condition of plurality, it is very dangerous to use this faculty in any but the realm of human affairs. Modern natural science and technology, which no longer observe or take material from or imitate processes of nature but seem actually to act into it, seem, by the same token, to have carried irreversibility and human unpredictability into the natural realm, where no remedy can be found to undo what has been done. Similarly, it seems that one of the great dangers of acting in the mode of making and within its categorical framework of means and ends lies in the concomitant self-deprivation of the remedies inherent only in action, so that one is bound not only to do with the means of violence necessary for all fabrication, but also to undo what he has done as he undoes an unsuccessful object, by means of destruction. Nothing appears more manifest in these attempts than the greatness of human power, whose source lies in the capacity to act, and which without action's inherent remedies inevitably begins to overpower and destroy not man himself but the conditions under which life was given to him.

The discoverer of the role of forgiveness in the realm of human affairs was Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that he made this discovery in a religious context and articulated it in religious language is no reason to take it any less seriously in a strictly secular sense. It has been in the nature of our tradition of political thought (and for reasons we cannot explore here) to be highly selective and to exclude from articulate conceptualization a great variety of authentic political experiences, among which we need not be surprised to find some of an even elementary nature. Certain aspects of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth which are not primarily related to the Christian religious message but sprang from experiences in the small and closely knit community of his followers, bent on challenging the public authorities in Israel, certainly belong among them, even though they have been neglected because of their allegedly exclusively religious nature. The only rudimentary sign of an awareness that forgiveness may be the necessary corrective for the inevitable damages resulting from action may be seen in the Roman principle to spare the vanquished (parcere subiectis)—a wisdom entirely unknown to the Greeks—or in the right to commute the death sentence, probably also of Roman origin, which is the prerogative of nearly all Western heads of state….

Crime and willed evil are rare, even rarer perhaps than good deeds… But trespassing is an everyday occurrence which is in the very nature of action's constant establishment of new relationships within a web of relations, and it needs forgiving, dismissing, in order to make it possible for life to go on by constantly releasing men from what they have done unknowingly. Only through this constant mutual release from what they do can men remain free agents, only by constant willingness to change their minds and start again can they be trusted with so great a power as that to begin something new. In this respect, forgiveness is the exact opposite of vengeance, which acts in the form of re-acting against an original trespassing, whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed, everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to take its unhindered course. In contrast to revenge, which is the natural, automatic reaction to transgression and which because of the irreversibility of the action process can be expected and even calculated, the act of forgiving can never be predicted; it is the only reaction that acts in an unexpected way and thus retains, though being a reaction, something of the original character of action. Forgiving, in other words, is the only reaction which does not merely re-act but acts anew and unexpectedly, unconditioned by the act which provoked it and therefore freeing from its consequences both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. The freedom contained in Jesus' teachings of forgiveness is the freedom from vengeance, which encloses both doer and sufferer in the relentless automatism of the action process, which by itself need never come to an end.

The alternative to forgiveness, but by no means its opposite, is punishment, and both have in common that they attempt to put an end to something that without interference could go on endlessly. It is therefore quite significant, a structural element in the realm of human affairs, that men are unable to forgive what they cannot punish and that they are unable to punish what has turned out to be unforgivable. This is the true hallmark of those offenses which, since Kant, we call "radical evil" and about whose nature so little is known, even to us who have been exposed to one of their rare outbursts on the public scene. All we know is that we can neither punish nor forgive such offenses and that they therefore transcend the realm of human affairs and the potentialities of human power, both of which they radically destroy wherever they make their appearance. Here, where the deed itself dispossesses us of all power, we can indeed only repeat with Jesus: "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea."

Perhaps the most plausible argument that forgiving and acting are as closely connected as destroying and making comes from that aspect of forgiveness where the undoing of what was done seems to show the same revelatory character as the deed itself. Forgiving and the relationship it establishes is always an eminently personal (though not necessarily individual or private) affair in which what was done is forgiven for the sake of who did it…. [L]ove, although it is one of the rarest occurrences in human lives, indeed possesses an unequaled power of self-revelation and an unequaled clarity of vision for the disclosure of who, precisely because it is unconcerned to the point of total unworldliness with what the loved person may be, with his qualities and shortcomings no less than with his achievements, failings, and transgressions….

Respect, not unlike the Aristotelian philia politike, is a kind of "friendship" without intimacy and without closeness; it is a regard for the person from the distance which the space of the world puts between us, and this regard is independent of qualities which we may admire or of achievements which we may highly esteem. Thus, the modern loss of respect, or rather the conviction that respect is due only where we admire or esteem, constitutes a clear symptom of the increasing depersonalization of public and social life. Respect, at any rate, because it concerns only the person, is quite sufficient to prompt forgiving of what a person did, for the sake of the person. But the fact that the same who, revealed in action and speech, remains also the subject of forgiving is the deepest reason why nobody can forgive himself; here, as in action and speech generally, we are dependent upon others, to whom we appear in a distinctness which we ourselves are unable to perceive.

Closed within ourselves, we would never be able to forgive ourselves any failing or transgression because we would lack the experience of the person for the sake of whom one can forgive.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Excerpts from Black Skin, White Masks

By Frantz Fanon as Translated from the 1952 French Original by Charles Lam Markmann in the Grove Weidenfield edition, published New York, 1967.

From the Introduction

The explosion will not happen today. It is too soon… or too late. I do not come with timeless truths. My consciousness is not illuminated with ultimate radiances. Nevertheless, in complete composure, I think it would be good if certain things were said….

Why write this book? No one has asked me for it. Especially those to whom it is directed. Well? Well, I reply quite calmly that there are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it...

Toward a new humanism… Understanding among men… Our colored brothers… Mankind, I believe in you… Race prejudice… To understand and to love….

What does a man want? What does the black man want? At the risk of arousing the resentment of my colored brothers, I will say that the black is not a man. There is a zone of nonbeing, an extraordinarily sterile and arid region, an utterly naked declivity where an authentic upheaval can be born. In most cases, that black man lacks the advantage of being able to accomplish this descent into a real hell. Man is not merely a possibility of recapture or of negation. If it is true that consciousness is a process of transcendence, we have to see too that this transcendence is haunted by the problems of love and understanding. Man is a yes! that vibrates to cosmic harmonies. Uprooted, pursued, baffled, doomed to watch the dissolution of the truths he has worked out for himself one after another, he has to give up projecting onto the world an antimony that coexists with him. The black is a black man; that is, as the result of a series of aberrations of affect, he is rooted at the core of a universe from which he must be extricated. The point is important. I propose nothing short of the liberation of the man of color from himself….

The black man wants to be white. The white man slaves to reach a human level. In the course of this essay, we shall observe the development of an effort to understand the black-white relation. The white man is sealed in his whiteness. The black in his blackness…. .

However painful it may be for me to accept this conclusion, I am obliged to state it: For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white. .

…This book is a clinical study. Those who recognize themselves in it, I think, will have made a step forward. I seriously hope to persuade my brother, whether black or white, to tear off with all his strength the shameful livery put together by centuries of incomprehension….

White civilization and European culture have forced an existential deviation on the Negro. I shall demonstrate elsewhere that what is often called the black soul is a white man's artifact. The educated Negro, slave of the spontaneous and cosmic Negro myth, feels at a given stage that his race no longer understands him. Or that he no longer understands it. Then he congratulates himself on this, and enlarging the difference, the incomprehension, the disharmony, he finds in them the meaning of his real humanity. Or more rarely he wants to belong to his people. And it is with rage in his mouth and abandon in his heart that he buries himself in the vast black abyss. We shall see that this attitude, so heroically absolute, renounces the present and the future in the name of a mythical past….

From Chapter One: The Negro and Language.

I ascribe a basic importance to the phenomenon of language. That is why I find it necessary to begin with this subject, which should provide us with one of the elements in the colored man's comprehension of the dimension of the other. For it is implicit that to speak is to exist absolutely for the other.

The black man has two dimensions. One with his fellows, the other with the white man. A Negro behaves differently with a white man and with another Negro. That this self-division is a direct result of colonialist subjection is beyond question… No one would dream of doubting that its major artery is fed from the heart of those various theories that have tried to prove that the Negro is a stage in the slow evolution of monkey into man. Here is objective evidence that expresses reality...

But when one has taken cognizance of this situation, one considers the job completed. How can one be deaf to the voice rolling down the stages of history: "What matters is not to know the world, but to change it." This matters enormously in our lifetime.

To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilization….

Every colonized people – in other words, every people in whose soul an inferiority complex has been created by the death and burial of its local cultural originality – finds itself face to face with the language of the civilizing nation; that is, with the culture of the mother country. The colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country's cultural standards. He becomes whiter as he abandons his blackness, his jungle. In the French colonial army, and particularly in the Senegalese regiments, the black officers serve first of all as interpreters. They are used to convey the master's orders to their fellows, and they too enjoy a certain position of honor…

The process repeats itself with the man of Martinique… The black man who has lived in France for a length of time returns radically changed… Even before he had gone away, one could tell from an almost aerial manner of his carriage that new forces had been set in motion… With great reserve our "new man" bowed slightly. The habitually raucous voice hinted at a gentle inner stirring as of rustling breezes. For the Negro knows that over there in France there is a stereotype of him that will fasten on to him at the pier in Le Havre or Marseille: "Ah come from Mahtinique, it's the fuhst time Ah've evah come to Fance." …Yes, I must take great pains with my speech, because I shall be more or less judges by it. With great contempt they will say of me: "He doesn't even know how to speak French." In every group of young men in the Antilles, the one who expresses himself well, who has mastered the language, is inordinately feared; keep an eye on that one, he is almost white. In France one says, "He talks like a book." In Martinique, "He talks like a white man."

…I was talking recently with someone from Martinique who told me with considerable resentment that some Guadeloupe Negroes were trying to "pass" as Martinicians. But, he added, the lie was rapidly discovered, because they are more savage than we are; which, again, means they are farther away from the white man. It is said that the Negro loves to jabber; in my own case, when I think of the word jabber I see a gay group of children calling and shouting for the sake of calling and shouting – childrenin the midst of play, to the degree to which play can be considered an initiation into life. The Negro loves to jabber, and from this theory it is not a long road that leads to a new proposition: The Negro is just a child.

…I say that he who looks into my eyes for anything but a perpetual question will have to lose his sight; neither recognition nor hate. And if I cry out, it will not be a black cry…

"Oh, I know the blacks. They must be spoken to kindly; talk to them about their country; it's all in knowing how to talk to them…" I am not at all exaggerating: A white man addressing a Negro behaves exactly like an adult with a child and starts smirking, whispering, patronizing, cozening… The physicians of the public health service know this very well. Twenty European patients, one after another, come in: "Please sit down… Why do wish to consult me? … What are your symptoms? …" Then comes a Negro or an Arab: "Sit there, boy… What's bothering you? … Where does it hurt, huh? …" When, that is, they do not say: "You not feel good, no?"

From Chapter Five: The Fact of Blackness

"Dirty n****r!" Or simply, "Look, a Negro!"

I came into the world imbued with the will to find meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects. Sealed into that confusing objecthood, I turned beseechingly to others. Their attention was a liberation, running over my body suddenly abraded into nonbeing, endowing me once more with an agility that I had thought lost, and by taking me out of the world, restoring me to it. But just as I reached the other side, I stumbled, and the movements, the attitudes, the glances of the other fixed me there, in the sense I which a chemical solution is fixed by a dye. I was indignant; I demanded an explanation. Nothing happened. I burst apart. Now the fragments have been put together by another self.

As long as the black man is among his own, he will have no occasion, except in minor internal conflicts, to experience hisbeing through others. There is of course the moment of "being for others," of which Hegel speaks, but every ontology is made unattainable in a colonized and civilized society… Ontology – once it is finally admitted as leaving existence by the wayside – does not permit us to understand the being of the black man. For not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man… The black man has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man. Overnight the Negro has been given two frames of reference within which he has to place himself. His metaphysics, or less pretentiously, his customs and the sources on which they were based, were wiped out because they were in conflict with a civilization that he did not know and that imposed itself on him…

And then the occasion arose when I had to meet the white man's eyes. An unfamiliar weight burdened me. The real world challenged my claims. In the white world the man of color encounters difficulties in the development of his bodily schema. Consciousness of the body is solely a negating activity. It is a third-person consciousness. The body is surrounded by an atmosphere of certain uncertainty. I know that if I want to smoke, I shall have to reach out my right arm and take the pack of cigarettes lying on the other end of the table. The matches, however, are in the drawer on the left, and I shall have to lean back slightly. And all these movements are made not out of habit but out of implicit knowledge. A slow composition of my self as a body in the middle of the spatial and temporal world – such seems to be the schema. It does not impose itself on me; it is, rather, a definitive structuring of the self and of the world – definitive because it creates a real dialectic between my body and the world…

"Look, a Negro!" It was an external stimuls that flicked over me as I passed by. I made a tight smile. "Look, a Negro!" It was true. It amused me. "Look, a Negro!" The circle was drawing a bit tighter. I made no secret of my amusement. "Mama, see the Negro! I'm frightened!" Frightened! Frightened! Now they were beginning to be afraid of me. I made up my mind to laugh myself to tears, but laughter had become impossible. I could no longer laugh, because I already knew that there were legends, stories, history… Then, assailed at various points, the corporeal schema crumbled, its place taken by an epidermal schema. In the train it was no longer a question of being aware of my body in the third person but in a triple person. In the train I was given not one but two, three places. I had already stopped being amused. It was not that I was finding febrile coordinates in the world. I existed triply: I occupied space. I moved toward the other… and the evanescent other, hostile but not opaque, transparent, not there, disappeared. Nausea… I was responsible at the same time for my body, for my race, for my ancestors. I subjected myself to an objective examination, I discovered my blackness, my ethnic characteristics; I was battered down by tom-toms, cannibalism, intellectual deficiency, fetishism, racial defects, slave-ships, and above all else, above all: "Sho' good eatin'." On that day, completely dislocated, unable to be abroad with the other, the white man, who unmercifully imprisoned me, I took myself far from my own presence, far indeed, and made myself an object. What else could it be for me but an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage that spattered my whole body with black blood? … Where shall I hide? "Look at the n****r! … Mama, a Negro! … Hell, he's getting mad … Take no notice, sir, he does not know you are as civilized as we…" My body was given to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly; look, a n****r, it's cold, the n****r is shivering, the n****r is shivering because he is cold, the little boy is trembling because he is afraid of the n****r, the n****r is shivering with cold, that cold that goes through your bones, the handsome little boy is trembling because he thinks that the n****r is quivering with rage, the little white boy throws himself into his mother's arms: Mama, the n****r's going to eat me up…

From the opposite end of the white world a magical Negro culture was hailing me… So here we have the Negro rehabilitated, "standing before the bar," ruling the world with his intuition, the Negro recognized, set on his feet again, sought after, taken up, and he is a Negro – no, he is not a Negro but the Negro, exciting the fecund antennae of the world, placed in the foreground of the world, raining his poetic power on the world, "open to all the breaths of the world." I embrace the world! I am the world! The white man has never understood this magic substitution. The white man wants the world; he wants it for himself alone. He finds himself predestined master of this world. He enslaves it. An acquisitive relation is established between the world and him. But there exist other values that fit only my forms. Like a magician, I robbed the white man of "a certain world," forever after lost to him and his. When that happened, the white man must have been rocked backward by a force that he could not identify, so little used as he is to such reactions. Somewhere beyond the objective world of farms and banana trees and rubber trees, I had subtly brought the real world into being. The essence of the world was my fortune. Between the world and me a relation of coexistence was established, I had discovered the primeval One. My "speaking hands" tore at the hysterical throat of the world. The white man had the anguished feeling that I was escaping from him and that I was taking something with me. He went through my pockets. He thrust probes into the least circumvolution of my brain. Everywhere he found only the obvious that I had a secret…

What is certain is that, at the very moment when I was trying to grasp my own being, Sartre, who remained The Other, gave me a name and thus shattered my last illusion… he was reminding me that my blackness was only a minor term. In all truth, in all truth I tell you, my shoulders slipped out of the framework of the world, my feet could no longer feel the touch of the ground. Without a Negro past, without a Negro future, it was impossible for me to live by my Negrohood. Not yet white, no longer wholly black, I was damned. Jean-Paul Sartre had forgotten that the Negro suffers in his body quite differently from the white man. Between the white man and me the connection was irrevocably one of transcendence. But the constancy of my love had been forgotten, I had defined myself as an absolute intensity of beginning. So I took up my negritude, and with tears in my eyes I put its machinery back together again. What had been broken to pieces was rebuilt, reconstructed by the intuitive lianas of my hands. My cry grew more violent: I am a Negro, I am a Negro, I am a Negro…

From Chapter Six: The Negro and Psychopathology

Every intellectual gain requires a loss in sexual potential. The civilized white man retains an irrational longing for unusual eras of sexual license, or orgiastic scenes, of unpunished rapes, of unrepressed incest. In one way these fantasies respond to Freud's life instinct. Projecting his own desires onto the Negro, the white man behaves "as if" the Negro really had them… the Negro is fixated at the genital; or at any rate he has been fixated there. Two realms: the intellectual and the sexual. An erection on Rodin's Thinker is a shocking thought. One cannot decently "have a hard on" everywhere. The Negro symbolizes the biological danger; the Jew, the intellectual danger. To suffer from a phobia of Negroes is to be afraid of the biological. For the Negro is only biological. The Negroes are animals. They go about naked….

Over three or four years I questioned some 500 members of the white race – French, German, English, Italian. I took advantage of a certain air of trust, of relaxation; in each instance I waited until my subject no longer hesitated to talk to me quite openly – that is, until he was sure that he would not offend me. Or else, in the midst of associational tests I inserted the word Negro among some twenty others. Almost 60 percent of the replies took this form: Negro brought for biology, penis, strong, athletic, potent, boxer, Joe Lewis, Jesse Owens, Senegalese troops, savage, animal, devil, sin… The Negro symbolizes the biological. First of all, he enters puberty at the age of nine and is a father at the age of tem; he is hot-blooded, and his blood is strong; he is tough. As a white man remarked to me not long ago, with a certain bitterness: "You all have such strong constitutions." What a beautiful race – look at the Senegalese… But they must be brutal… I just can't see them putting those big hands of theirs on my shoulders. I shudder at the mere thought of it… I have always been struck by the speed with which "handsome young Negro" turns into "young colt" or "stallion." …one is no longer aware of the Negro but only of a penis; the Negro is eclipsed, He is turned into a penis. He is a penis… The white man is convinced that the Negro is a beast; if it is not the length of the penis, then it is the sexual potency that impresses him…

There are… men who go to "houses" in order to be beaten by Negroes; passive homosexuals who insist on black partners… I have a confession to make to you to make to you: I have never been able, without revulsion, to hear a man say of another man: "He is so sensual!" I do not know what the sensuality of a man is. [uh huh –-added by d]

From Chapter Eight: By Way of Conclusion

I do not carry innocence to the point of believing that appeals to reason or to respect human dignity can alter reality. For the Negro who works on a sugar plantation in Le Robert, there is only one solution: to fight. He will embark on this struggle, and he will pursue it, not as the result of Marxist or idealistic analysis but quite simply because he cannot conceive of life otherwise than in the form of a battle against exploitation, misery, and hunger… Intellectual alienation is a creation of middle-class society. What I call middle-class society is any society that becomes rigidified in predetermined forms, forbidding all evolutions, all gains, all progress, all discovery. I call middle class a closed society in which life has no taste, in which the air is tainted, in which ideas and men are corrupt. And I think that a man who takes a stand against this death is in a sense a revolutionary.

The discovery of the existence of a Negro civilization in the fifteenth century confers no patent of humanity on me. Like it or not, the past can in no way guide me in the present moment… I have ceaselessly striven to show the Negro that in a sense he makes himself abnormal; to show the white man that he is at once the perpetrator and the victim of a delusion. There are times when the black man is locked into his body… the body is no longer a cause of the structure of consciousness, it has become an object of consciousness. The Negro, however sincere, is the slave of the past. Nonetheless, I am a man and in this sense the Peloponesian War is as much mine as the invention of the compass… Every time a man has contributed to the victory of the dignity of the spirit, every time a man has said no to an attempt to subjugate his fellows, I have felt solidarity with his act…. In no way should I dedicate myself to the revival of an unjustly unrecognized Negro civilization. I will not make myself the man of any past. I do not want to exalt the past at the expense of my present and of my future… The black man wants to be like the white man. For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white. [*** verbatim phrase from the Introduction – added by d] …Have I no other purpose on earth, then, but to avenge the Negro of the seventeenth century? In this world that is already trying to disappear, do I have to pose the problem of black truth? … There is no Negro mission; there is no white burden. I find myself suddenly in a world in which things do evil; a world in which I am summoned to battle; a world in which it is always a question of annihilation or triumph… My life is caught in the lasso of existence. My freedom turns me back on myself. No, I do not have the right to be a Negro… I have one right alone: That of demanding human behavior from the other. One duty alone: That of not renouncing my freedom through my choices…. There is no white world, there is no white ethic, any more than there is a white intelligence… In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself… The Negro is not. Any more than the white man… It is through the effort to recapture the self and scrutinize the self, it is through the lasting tension of their freedom that men will be able to create the ideal conditions of their existence for a human world. Superiority? Inferiority? Why not the quite simple attempt to touch the other, to feel the other, to explain the other to myself? Was my freedom not given to me then in order to build the world of the You? At the conclusion of this study, I want the world to recognize, with me, the open door of every consciousness. My final prayer: O my body, make of me always a man who questions!