Love and Intellect II: For Blake, Against Nietzsche

Sources for program by Ralph Dumain


THE PODCAST / BROADCAST

10 November 2019: Love and Intellect II: For Blake, Against Nietzsche (42:10 min.)

I clarify my rationale behind Part I and now Part II, and how love relates to intellect. The issues involved in the development of intellectual maturity and authority and the pitfalls encountered in assimilating the world's intellectual heritage are discussed. My first example is the marketing of Eastern mysticism and New Age thought in the Western world. Then I turn to Western authors. In recent decades the prevailing philosophical mindset is what is loosely termed postmodernism, whose philosophical foundations come from Nietzsche and Heidegger. I then cite recent books on intellectuals vs the masses, Nietzsche, Heidegger, their influences on subsequent thinkers, their relation to fascism, and Nietzscheanism in popular culture, with the aim of discrediting both Nietzsche and Heidegger. Then I introduce a surprise author to this discussion: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and his 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, to further clarify what Nietzscheanism means on the streets. I contrast William Blake to the pathological ideologies discussed. I quote from Blake, Vonnegut, the television series The Outer Limits, and end with a blistering quote from C.L.R. James and a Blake poem.

[Note: The texts displayed below and the quote from C.L.R. James on What They Do were recited.]

THE BOTTOM LINE

Much of this will seem rather specialized to the average person, but the bottom line is this: if you’re concerned only about human stupidity but not human suffering, then you’re of no use to anybody.


REFERENCES (DISCUSSED IN PROGRAM)

Antosik, Stanley J. The Question of Elites: An Essay on the Cultural Elitism of Nietzsche, George, and Hesse. Bern; Las Vegas: Peter Lang, 1978.

Bakewell, Sarah. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Edmund Husserl, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others. New York: Other Press, 2016.

Beiner, Ronald. Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.

Carey, John. The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Landa, Ishay. The Overman in the Marketplace: Nietzschean Heroism in Popular Culture. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr. Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday!, with drawings by the author. New York: Delacorte Press, 1973.

Wolin, Richard. Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.


LINKS

... ON THIS SITE

... ON OTHER SITES

The Voice of the Ancient Bard,” in Songs of Experience (1794) by William Blake

“A Memorable Fancy” in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793) by William Blake, plates 21-22

See also William Blake on Intellectual Conceit & Inflated Reputations on this site

Poems from the Notebook of William Blake

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: “Breakfast of Champions” (1) by R. Dumain (22 Nov 2012)

Breakfast of Champions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sunset Limited (TV Movie 2011) by Cormac McCarthy

C.L.R. James on What They Do


TEXTS

 

A poet once wrote, “In dreams begins responsibility.” So too, perhaps, with love. Without dreams, without the hope of a better life, a brighter future, it is difficult for love to flourish. And without love... there are no dreams.

— “The Refuge,” The Outer Limits (second series), Season 2, Episode 11, Directed by  Ken Girotti, Written by Alan Brennert, Original air date 5 April 1996


The Angel that presided oer my birth
Said Little creature formd of Joy & Mirth
Go love without the help of any King on Earth

— William Blake, Poems from the Notebook, N 32, poem 98, circa 1808-1809
[final version: ‘Thing’ overwritten by ‘King', ‘for Joy’ replaced by ‘of Joy’]


A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, and conciev'd himself as much wiser than seven men. It is so with Swedenborg; he shews the folly of churches & exposes hypocrites, till he imagines that all are religious. & himself the single One on earth that ever broke a net.

— The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793) by William Blake, plates 21-22


Here was the core of the bad ideas which Trout gave to Dwayne: Everybody on Earth was a robot, with one exception—Dwayne Hoover.

Of all the creatures in the Universe, only Dwayne was thinking and feeling and worrying and planning and so on. Nobody else knew what pain was. Nobody else had any choices to make. Everybody else was a fully automatic machine, whose purpose was to stimulate Dwayne. Dwayne was a new type of creature being tested by the Creator of the Universe.

Only Dwayne Hoover had free will.

Trout did not expect to be believed. He put the bad ideas into a science-fiction novel, and that was where Dwayne found them. The book wasn’t addressed to Dwayne alone. Trout had never heard of Dwayne when he wrote it. It was addressed to anybody who happened to open it up. It said to simply anybody, in effect, “Hey—guess what: You’re the only creature with free will. How does that make you feel?” And so on.

It was a tour de force. It was a jeu d’esprit.

But it was mind poison to Dwayne.

Breakfast of Champions; or, Goodbye Blue Monday! by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.




The Voice of the Ancient Bard

Youth of delight come hither:
And see the opening morn,
Image of truth new born.
Doubt is fled & clouds of reason.
Dark disputes & artful teazing.
Folly is an endless maze,
Tangled roots perplex her ways,
How many have fallen there!
They stumble all night over bones of the dead,
And feel they know not what but care;
And wish to lead others, when they should be led.

— from Songs of Experience by William Blake



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Uploaded 18 August 2019
Updated 13-17 November 2019

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