Qoutes Pynchon, Arendt, and others

October 29, 2007 at 4:37 am Leave a comment

The new Pynchon has the usual oblique commentary in the form of prose poem i.e. epigrams. Here are a few from the first 100 or so pages. I might add Against the Day has hooked me much more quickly than Mason & Dixon, but it addresses concerns much more practical and down to earth than Gravity’s Rainbow.

“As the ordeal went on, it became clear to certain of these balloonists, observing from above and poised ever upon a cusp of mortal danger, how much the modern State depended for its survival on maintaining a condition of permanent siege-through the systematic encirclement of populations, the starvation of bodies and spirits, the relentless degradation of civility until citizen was turned against citizen, even to the point of committing atrocities like those of the infamous petroleurs of Paris.” – Against The Day, T. Pynchon

“Many people believe that there is a mathematical correlation between sin, penance, and redemption. More sin, more penance, and so forth. Our own point has always been that there is no connection. All the variables are independent. You do penance not because you have sinned but because it is your destiny. You are redeemed not through doing penance but because it happens. Or doesn’t happen.” – Against The Day

There’s a website for discussing the book with line by line breakdowns here:
http://chumpsofchoice.blogspot.com/

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I’ve also been reading a lot of Hannah Arendt these days, mostly because I find her thinking pretty fascinating. It’s refreshing to read someone with a value set unlike mine, but with whom I occasionally intersect in different ways. Regardless, she has more stuff that surprised me than Pynchon, so a few more quotes from her.

“And though one may argue that all notions of man creating himself have in common a rebellion against the very factuality of the human condition-nothing is more obvious than that man, whether as member of the species or as an individual, does not owe his existence to himself- and that therefore what Sartre, Marx, and Hegel have in common is more relevant than the particular activities through which this non-fact should presumably have come about, ” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

One of the things I like abut Arendt is that I don’t understand her perspective sometimes. This phrase which obviously goes against the existentialist idea of man creating himself, I don’t disagree with, but what does Arendt think make up people (genetics? cultural construction? environment?) is not specified.

“Fanon’s worst rhetorical excesses, such as, ‘hunger with dignity is preferable to bread eaten in slavery.’ No history and no theory is needed to refute this statement… Reading these irresponsible grandiose statements-and those I quoted are fairly representative…one is tempted to deny their significance.” – Hannah Arendt, On Violence

I’m an idealist and find Arendt’s ordering or values here interesting. That she feels it’s better to live as a slave than say die for your ideals is well when I think about it probably the more likely path most people will take, and for that matter what the slaver prefers.

“To think, finally, that there is such a thing as a ‘Unity of the Third Word,’ to which one could address the new slogan in era of decolonization ‘Natives of all underdeveloped countries unite!'(Sartre) is to repeat Marx’s worst illusions on a greatly enlarged scale and with considerably less justification. The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.” – Arendt, On Violence

Exactly.

“If we look on history in terms of a continuous chronological process, whose progress, moreover is inevitable, violence in the shape of war and revolution may appear to constitute the only possible interruption.” – Arendt, On Violence

“Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together… It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength” – Arendt

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“Sze’s work offers arrangements of unexplained significance which mimic confused reality and to a degree reconcile one to it.” – Peter Campbell on Sarah Sze http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n19/camp01_.html

Entry filed under: books, Links, media, politics.

links for 2007-10-27 links for 2007-10-29

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