About

It has gradually become clear to me what every great philosophy has hereto-fore been: a confession on the part of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir.—Friedrich Nietzsche

Reflections and insights from the edge of Western civilization.

I’m a 28 year old graduate student with a background in philosophy. My primary areas of interest include 19th/20th century Germanic thought as well as the existentialists and their predecessors.

Most of the content that appears falls far below the rigors of formal academic writing. That is intentional. This site is merely a repository for my varied reflections and thoughts on a variety of topics and subjects. I may post more serious academic writing from time to time, whether on account of independent research or old essays/papers I’ve worked on. If people find the content interesting — fine. If not, that’s perfectly alright, too.

My main areas of interest include existentialism, phenomenology, literary theory, deconstruction, and historiography.

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6 comments

  1. Moe

    Hey man I’m a regular reader of your posts and have found them interesting over time. Anyway, I was wondering that if you ever get to read this comment that you would go on give me your take on the writings of one Ernest Becker, a cultural anthropologist . That is, I recommend you read his book ‘The Birth and Death of Meaning’ and tell me given your pessimism what you think of his take on human consciousness and our response to it, and just his general outlook. I already have my views on him but I’ve been wondering how you would respond to his writings which are sort a of (well to me) a diagnosis of yourself. Please respond asap should you be willing to take me up on the offer (please to do consider it).

    • antimodernist

      Hey – unfortunately I’m not all that familiar w/ Becker’s work, save for some selected excerpts from The Denial of Death, so I couldn’t make any semblance of a meaningful comment with regards to his body of thought at this time. That being said – I’m always interested in recommendations for reading, so I looked and found a copy of The Birth and Death of Meaning on Amazon for around $5. I’ll order it and give it a read and draft a follow-up post with my thoughts. Can’t make any guarantees as to when I’ll get that done with – but thanks again for the recommendation.

  2. Largo

    Dear Anti-Modernist,

    My withdraw from being-in-the-world leads to atrophy in my language. My ideo-lexicon becomes closer ti new-speak. “How do you feel?” That depends on what I am feeling. If I am feeling a handrail, it is chiefly with my palm; if it is my lover’s skin, it is chiefly with my fingertips.

    Of course I can speak more broadly about sensitivity. I “feel” the flavor of an apple with my tongue. I “feel” the color of an apple with my eyes. I “feel” the syntactic structure of a sentence (with my internal parser?). I “feel” the solution to a mathematics problem (and now can sleep, confident that I can construct a proof in the morning.)

    “Are you happy?” That depends. Happy with what? I am “happy with” my new car. I am “happy to have” your company today. I am “unhappy over” the falling out I had with my business partner. When I say these things, I am not quite sure of what I mean. But when you ask simply “Are you happy?”, we seem to be in the middle of a language game that I am not competent to play.

    “Do you love me?”, asks my wife. Yes I do love you — -and- the music of Bach, -and- tuna casserole, -and- my enemies.

    In trying to phenomenalize, how can one use the word “intention” when one has been in the dark for so long that one has forgotten even the memory of what the word means?

    ***

    In other words, do you hold any truck with Wittgenstein that might give you a hint as to how I might find a way out of my stupidity?

    – Largo

  3. Martin Bastow

    Dear Anti – Modernist,
    I am a post grad fine art student form East Anglia, Uk.
    My chosen field of interest is melancholia, specifically from two perspectives:
    1. How strange that taken as a whole we, humans, avoid failing into melancholia. To look from close up into the everyday struggles of an individual, whose invested hope and faithfulness is repaid most of the time with rejection and isolation, to the big picture where we could imagine human culture as a whole doing great damage to itself and to beauty with every second the clock ticks and very move we make, I must wonder, therefore, why is it that we get up in the morning? Is it stupidity or optimism? But we do, and with very blow we dust ourselves down and set at it again with renewed vigour. I have imagined, allegorically , the Wildebeest performing their annual circumnavigation, each time wondering when will this goddam running ever end! And in the noble sad eyes of that animal I can glimpse or imagine I am glimpsing a reflection. As you see I am not interested in depression per se, I am interested in resistance to depression which is a thing of great beauty, but also as part of a horrendous loop like a snake swallowing its own tail, is in itself deeply, and aesthetically, melancholic, because it is catastrophically doomed.
    2. That the portrayal or otherwise employment of animal imagery in human culture effectively dulls the angst of our own knowing, and provides us with an imagined world bubble from within which we can be in the present. Our atavistic ancestors certainly made good use of animal imagery on cave walls, almost exclusively animal, as if to include themselves highlighted the distress of existence, yet the shape of an animal, a bison or a horse for example provided something vital. It is conjectured that the group animal paintings were depicted so that the cave dwellers could describe, explain and organise their social groups, as a sociopolitical tool. Doubtless the great beasts were also drawn as celebratory icons. But I wonder , and I do not know if there is any evidence to support this nor if it has been considered before, whether the animal drawing was used a community treatment or amelioration for melancholia. Did Neanderthal man, looking into self for the first time, in a garden of eve moment, become terrified of what was round the corner, separating him/ her from nature for ever. Could it be that the drawings, rather than being a deposit for anxiety and an explainer of anxiety, were actually a mindfulness / presentness conceit? And in more recent history with the use of animal masks, imagery, natural history museums and the west’s obsession with pets it could be suggested that rather than looking at nature as if it had a defined objective shape that we could consider with in the theatre scape of our interpretive mind, that such use is illusionary and exist primarily to dull the pain of knowing and being. I am reminded of a great scene in Jonny Brasco where Al Pacino, while relaxing at home between shifts as a mobster, watches a natural history programme about cheetahs on the African savannah. His sadness and ridiculousness melts away for a moment while he is transformed and transported.
    I would love to hear your views on the above if you have time and an inclination,
    Thanks
    Martin Bastow

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