I discuss these two driving forces that motivate me and are essential to the psychological survival of the critically thinking person, especially that person without institutional and social support. In Part I I analyze the dilemma of the critically thinking individual and the tendency towards isolation, which can breed bitterness and stagnation. I give two real life examples. I address the invisibility of the critical thinkerespecially of Black Americansin popular culture, organized as it is against the expression of an individual perspective. There are two routes to escape social isolation: constructing a support system, and, historically, via literacy--reading, which brings up the pitfalls of engaging the intellectual heritage, to be discussed in a future broadcast. I expand further on love and intellect and their mutual reinforcement. In Part II I discuss the obstacle presented to the critical intellect by superstition, in two forms: traditional religion, and Do-it-yourself New Age spirituality. In this broadcast I quote William Blake, Karl Marx, Theodor W. Adorno, and Duke Ellington.
a. Welcome to the 15th installment of SIDC, July 27, 2019, with your host Ralph Dumain
b. 1st broadcast live on Facebook, to be permanently archived at Think Twice Radio, at http://www.thinktwiceradio.com/dumain/dumain.html.
c. I am broadcasting from the Home of the Future in South Buffalo. I could say something about South Buffalo, but all I will say is that my mother lived here for a time in the 1940s and found it hostile, unpleasant, and bigoted, and I see no reason to believe it has improved since then.
d. This is an especially good date for this broadcast, as July 27 is the date that Baruch Spinoza, the first rootless cosmopolitan, blessed be he, was excommunicated at the age of 23 by the Jewish community of Amsterdam, in 1656. The Stalinist campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans”—a code word for Jewish intellectuals—was initiated in December 1946, but I picked July 27 to celebrate what I have coined “Rootless Cosmopolitans Day,” because belonging is highly overrated, and we, whatever our background, need a day of our own.
e. This installment is titled LOVE AND INTELLECT, and I dedicate it to Juan in Washington, DC, who faces the dilemmas I will discuss here and who is the type of person among my listeners who matters most.
f. To recap, SIDC is inspired by the work of Christopher Caudwell, a brilliant autodidact who was killed fighting fascism in Spain in 1937, who authored a series of studies titled “Studies in a Dying Culture”, facing the crisis of capitalism’s descent into fascism of his time. My broadcasts do not necessarily focus on the negative, but we too face a crisis, and my goal here is to contrast what is alive in thought to what is dead in the world.
g. For further research, see
i. My web site autodidactproject.org
ii. My blog reasonsociety.blogspot.com
iii. In a couple weeks I will add a web page detailing the contents of this broadcast with links to the sources and quotations I use here plus those I couldn’t squeeze in.
iv. I refer you also to a previous installment: 5/17/2015: ADORNO FOR AUTODIDACTS, for which there is also a web page as well as an archive broadcast, which was my original springboard for what I am going to convey here.
h. Now finally we can begin.
1. PART I: DILEMMA OF THE CRITICAL INTELLECT
a. Let me begin with a quote from William Blake’s prophetic poem MILTON:
There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find
Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, but the Industrious find
This Moment & it multiply, & when it once is found
It Renovates every Moment of the Day if rightly placed
i. This is what we seek here: that dialectical moment of renewal that transcends organized dehumanization.
ii. And thus my theme: love & intellect, because only via these two, playing off one another, can we chart a way through and out of bitterness and stagnation.
b. Dilemma of the critically thinking individual
i. Especially the working class outsider
ii. The one with no institutional connection or power base, or even base of support of any kind
iii. Anonymous and unacknowledged
iv. Adrift amidst the ignorance of both the rich and the poor
v. In some cases bereft of satisfactory interpersonal relationships
1. Not understood or respected by family—parents, siblings, spouses—or by lovers, friedns, neighbors, community.
vi. There is a tendency to isolation
vii. But isolation breeds dysfunction & stagnation
a. My ex-companion’s previous companion: a nerdy black atheist with an unhappy upbringing, completely alienated from family, never could satisfactorily relate to other people, sadly a case of arrested development, character & mind never matured
b. A frustrated, bitter, misanthropic, highly intelligent young black woman not out of her teens.
i. She didn’t see any prospects for human improvement: “Why should I want better for other people what they don’t want for themselves?
ii. I attempted to convey a perspective by which she would escape the dead end of bitterness, but I failed.
iii. She got furious with me, thinking I was just slinging empty platitudes
iv. But I hate platitudes and I hate preachers. I tried to respect her situation, but I could not get through.
v. There are no guarantees, but there is a vital lesson: you must do justice to people’s experience and people’s suffering
viii. Invisibility of the critical thinker lacking connections
1. In a world organized against thought
2. Double invisibility of minorities—I think esp. of black Americans
a. Popular culture organized against individual perspective
b. The culture industry has billions of dollars invested in stereotyping—even with an extended range of types, and the phenomenon of crossover stereotyping (sitcoms)
c. Everything is a type—even nerds are a type, but an actual individual perception of the various segments and assumptions of society is excluded
3. How to address the problem of social isolation?
a. Support system
i. Esp. important for raising children
ii. Can’t discuss in detail here
b. Historically, literacy—READING—has been the escape route
i. Engaging the intellectual heritage is a problem in itself which will probably have to wait till the next broadcast.
4. The dilemma & goal: escape entrapment in bitterness and stagnation
a. My 2 guiding principles: love & intellect
b. They drive one another on, sometimes clash, but are inseparable.
c. Love is motivation: without it the mind dies too.
d. Intellect delves deeper & farther than immediate impressions & beyond the boundaries of interpersonal relations within existing social arrangements; sees the tragedy of what should be but is not.
i. requires imagination --> without imagination, intellect is sterile
ii. quote attributed to Paul Eluard, who actually quoted someone quoting someone: “There is another world, but it is in this one.”
e. There is a necessary experience of closeness & distance --> to occupy both vantage points simultaneously
f. ‘Positivity’ is insufficient --> against preaching & ideology, to be positive one must be honest & specific
g. By this process, one builds up intellectual authority, counterpoises to mental weakness, including the mental weakness of intellectuals
i. intellectual authority not dependent on status
ii. turn to literary & philosophical sources of alternative perspective -->
1. I will have to save this for another installment
2. PART II: THE CRITICAL INTELLECT VS SUPERSTITION
a. Impossible to argue with survival-driven illusions, esp. religious ones
b. 2 types of superstition
i. adherents of traditional religion
ii. DIY New Age spirituality
1. reality is what works for me
c. traditional religious beliefs
i. Marx quote from A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right : Introduction, written December 1843-January 1844
1. many passsages are extracted from this essay & quoted separately
2. I will quote a key extract near the beginning
3. INSERT QUOTE HERE
4. ‘opium of the people’ most quoted but least interesting of these passages
5. the key passage is this: Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification.
6. That is, this is how experience is filtered, interpreted, and justified .... by the decent & indecent, the honest & dishonest, ....
7. it is the mental universe within which the uneducated & badly educated orient themselves & their relations with others.
8. It is not just the ‘opium of the people’—which is only one function of religion for the dispossessed—but their circumscribed mental universe.
9. and this is what you will bang your head against in vain.
d. New Age superstitition
i. Here too the critical intellectual perspective is opposed, with accusations of failing to be ‘open-minded’
ii. This is what I had in mind when I presented what I called “Adorno's best break-up quotes” in my Adorno podcast
1. It’s a personal in-joke that only I get.
2. I sent the quote I’m about to read to my soon-to-be-ex-partner who was committed to New Age thinking & positivity, who accused me of negativity, to explain myself.
3. INSERT QUOTE HERE: Adorno on Truth, Survival, Consolation & Freedom of Thought.
4. This is what we face, and what we can’t overcome.
a. turning to intellectual heritage
i. another broadcast necessary
ii. but this too will be a challenge
iii. to encounter the hatefulness, right wing exterminationism of unjustly influential philosophers --> Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc.
iv. Next installment could be summarized as: for Blake, against Nietzsche
b. Instead I will close out with more quotes—both pessimistic and inspirational—to highlight what I’m communicating here.
i. more ‘Adorno’s best break-up quotes’
d. That miracle may or may not happen for you, but don’t be inhibited by fear & a hostile environment; don’t let that stop you from experiencing somewhere, somehow, and hopefully with someone, the immeasurably joyous expression of both love and intellect.
Reference links on this site:
Resignation (Excerpts) by Theodor W. Adorno
Physique de la Poésie (Premières vues anciennes)Love and Intellect II: For Blake, Against Nietzsche: Sources for Program by Ralph Dumain
Studies in a Dying Culture radio program / podcast series (5/10/10 - )
Studies in a Dying Culture @ ThinkTwiceRadio
Addtional links not used in the podcast:
Refusing Positive Thinking After Auschwitz (on this site)
Who Thinks Abstractly? (c. 1808 ) by G.W.F. Hegel (offsite)
7/27/19 Love and Intellect (audio @ Think Twice Radio)
Love and Intellect (video @ Facebook)
2019 July 27: Ralph Dumain: Studies in a Dying Culture: Love & Intellect (video @ YouTube)
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