Me on the ZeroSquared Podcast: On the Radical Empiricism of Rhetoric


Anonymous said...

"All of his [Houellebecq] books center on the same notion, which is that modern Westerners are hopelessly lonely because they have removed themselves from life through layers of abstraction."

I'm with you on the reading the world idea as much as tradesman (non-academic) can be. Maybe some help if you would be so kind.

Let's suppose I graduate from boxercise to actually sparring/fighting, or from sticking a needle in an orange to doing a spinal on a sick child. Are you arguing that the "reading" one takes/makes of these equates with the "reading" one makes of sitting in front of a screen watching images?

Thanks for any help.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Hmn....I'm not sure I understand your question. But I want to! Can you flesh it out a bit? (And thanks, as always, for reading and participating; I am deeply appreciative.)

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I realized I was blathering ten minutes after I'd hit the post button. God , I hate that feeling.

Would you be kind to tell me if you agree with the purported opinion of Houellebecq.

Would you also say a little on the difference between a reading from abstraction verses a from reading from
material/physical interaction.

Daniel Coffeen said...

Well, hmn, it seems to me the question remains phenomenological: there is a dramatic difference between shadow boxing and real boxing, between poking an orange and poking a young child's vein. In fact, the only reason you'd ask the question is b/c one imagines a proximity to truth or that images are a substitution for the real. When, in fact, they are just different experiences — neither is more or less real. They are different, however: physically (weights, speeds, smells) and meta-physically (moods, affect, tone). Of course they are! A picture of me fits in my pocket; I don't fit in my pocket.

I think this quote about MH may or may not be "accurate" vis a vis his work. But is there a problem with living more and more abstractly? Well, I know that in my city, I see people interacting less and less with their neighborhood as they peruse the internet which makes my experience less pleasurable — less knowing banter on the street, less casual trust of the oddity of the other. This is my own prejudice, of course: I like the experience of a neighborhood. To the kids today, what's a neighborhood?

I'm not sure, however, if this is as much a question of abstraction per se as it is the particular experience of social media. I mean: rather than looking at their phones, they could be contemplating the infinite as they read Kierkegaard — an abstraction in its way. That might make my neighborhood less pleasant but surely in a different way than Facebook.

Am I addressing your question at all??? I hope so! But, if not, please don't hesitate to tell me.

Anonymous said...

Yes you did. Thanks. It's not exactly what I'm after, but that's on me. I have to put this sentiment in words (abstract), but words are tough. I've spent my entire life "doing", where words are an excuse to avoid being useful.

There's this phenomena? that happens occasionally when I'm boxing. I'll be struggling with a punch sequence while hitting the mitts then suddenly I'll execute it perfectly. I'll be watching myself move my arms perfectly wondering how this is happening. Or I'll be sparring and all of a sudden I'll be hitting the other guy right where I should without any awareness. I hope to get that good with words, so I can get out of you what I 'm after.

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