Transcript from the talk show Skavlan December 4th 2015:
Linn Ullmann (norwegian author): «Do you believe in grace? Something as in music or…»
Richard Dawkins: «What do you mean by “grace”?»
Ullmann: «I’d like to know what you mean by it.»
Dawkins: «I don’t, I don’t use the word.»
Ullmann: «Is that a word that is not even in your vocabulary?»
Dawkins: «No, it isn’t, but I don’t want you to get away with saying that Bach sort of belong to the supernatural, because Bach wrote beautiful music, inspired by religion, which I apresiate as much as anybody else, I mean I adore Bach, I don’t want anybody to get away with the sort of thought that an atheist can not apreciate the great art, the great music, the great poetry of the world. Far from it! We can, we do.»
(Applause in audience)
End of transcript.
I have marked in bold the part of the transcript where Dawkins instead of continuing on Ullmanns derivation of the word «grace» in music Dawkins plays on with the phonic signifier of music itself, claiming that atheists can enjoy the art of the phonic signifiers. He get touched by music, by a signifier that comes silently from the sheet music through the ear and into the soul, or in Dawkin’s terminology: the gene for enjoying music. I think it’s interesting how language fall short in describing the experience of the thing that with the linguistic signs is called «grace», and how it kind of flows into music.
And in continuing the previous post, moving from Debord to Derrida and from Plato to the Judeo-Christian God: even if différance is not God and deconstruction is not theology, the derridaian terms at least made John D. Caputo write about it in comparison to those things. That makes Derrida more of a prayer than a relativist.
By Thomas Thornton on May 27, 2013
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Caputo is perhaps too academic and single-minded for the average reader, even one who knows all about differance, a word almost on every page, as the summing up of Derrida in a word. If this word is unfamiliar to you, forget this book. If you at least know that it is a neologism combining difference and differing, you still have to make your way through the critique of Levinas in the next chapter. I prefer simply to read Derrida in the original in his piece ‘contra Levinas’. If this controversy is new to you, this book won’t help dispel it since Caputo is hooked on deconstructing the way to the Wholly Other. Briefly Derrida tries to dissociate (the highest) choice from the usual metaphysical predicates (autonomy, consciousness) and think of it as the other’s decision in me. Let’s capitalize that Other. In other words, we are passive receptors of the Other’s message.
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Minerva wrote this about American Gods:
“The reader encounters here on another important feature of the modern American culture : Consumer Culture . Just like that one spends money on new things, we use money on experiences, which also includes the sacred. In America waits always on the next new , whether it is products, ideas or experiences, and replaced regularly in the same way as other goods. Once rejected meaning, they no longer holds something for those who previously kept them alive.”
But as you can read in these excerpts, especially in the paragraph about Disney World, this consumer culture is carrying a loss within itself, a différance from the ideal literary object and the resume in literature criticism. The careful reader will maybe recognize this as a global phenomena in capitalism and spectacular societies.
From “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman:
“This is the only country in the world,” said
Wednesday, into the stillness, “that worries
about what it is.”
“The rest of them know what they are. No
one ever needs to go searching for the heart
of Norway. Or looks for the soul of
Mozambique. They know what they are.”
“And . . . ?”
“Just thinking out loud.”
“So you’ve been to lots of other countries,
Wednesday said nothing. Shadow glanced at
him. “No,” said Wednesday, with a sigh.
“No. I never have.”
“This is a roadside attraction,” said
Wednesday. “One of the finest. Which means
it is a place of power.”
“It’s perfectly simple,” said Wednesday. “In
other countries, over the years, people
recognized the places of power. Sometimes
it would be a natural formation, sometimes it
would just be a place that was, somehow,
special. They knew that something important
was happening there, that there was some
focusing point, some channel, some window
to the Immanent. And so they would build
temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles,
or . . . well, you get the idea.”
“There are churches all across the States,
though,” said Shadow.
“In every town. Sometimes on every block.
And about as significant, in this context, as
dentists’ offices. No, in the USA, people still
get the call, or some of them, and they feel
themselves being called to from the
transcendent void, and they respond to it by
building a model out of beer bottles of
somewhere they’ve never visited, or by
erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of
the country that bats have traditionally
declined to visit. Roadside attractions:
people feel themselves being pulled to
places where, in other parts of the world,
they would recognize that part of themselves
that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog
and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level
they cannot truly describe, and profoundly
dissatisfied on a level beneath that.”
“You have some pretty whacked-out
theories,” said Shadow.
“Nothing theoretical about it, young man,”
said Wednesday. “You should have figured
that out by now.”
“So according to your theory,” said Shadow,
“Walt Disney World would be the holiest
place in America.”
Wednesday frowned, and stroked his beard.
“Walt Disney bought some orange groves in
the middle of Florida and built a tourist town
on them. No magic there of any kind. I think
there might be something real in the original
Disneyland. There may be some power there,
although twisted, and hard to access. But
some parts of Florida are filled with real
magic. You just have to keep your eyes open.
Ah, for the mermaids of Weeki Wachee . . .
Follow me, this way.”
Actor Svein Tindberg is playing Brand on norwegian theaters at the moment. He claims that Ibsen’s character Brand is “more than a priest who’s playing with toys and ketchup ourside abortion clinics,” refering to norwegian fundamentalist Borre Knudsen. As a matter of fact I think Brand is not more, but less than Knudsen, the latter did not have Brand’s distance to his own soul. Like George Lukacs wrote “The essential inner stylelessness of modern drama, and of Ibsen in particular, derives from the fact that his major figures have to be tested, that they sense within themselves the distance between themselves and their soul, and, in their desperate desire to pass the tests with which events confront them, try to bridge that distance. The heroes of modern drama experience the preconditions of drama; the drama itself unfolds in the process of stylisation which the dramatist should have completed, as a phenomenological precondition of his work, before beginning to write it.” (The Theory of the Novel, 1915)
“empty vessels make the most noise
survival of the fittest
wading through the marshes
userers flatterers and thiefs.
im sick of all your bullshit.
im sick of all these fucking mindgames.
who invited you anyway?”
you have to be a good reader, not only of short texts, but novels too. That’s why I don’t follow that many of the bloggers who follows me. There’s also useful to find ways to cope with the thousands of temptations and distractions on the internet. I found these videos by using what Kenneth Goldsmith described as derive applied to the digital age in his book Uncreative Writing.