Monday, May 26, 2014

Not-So-Great Wars and Modern Memory

Arlington West Santa Monica - February 17, 2013
From my piece:

Beside and beneath the fun and folly of the Santa Monica Pier lies a graveyard with no graves. While Arlington National Cemetery is a place of mourning, a place where Americans go to pay their respects, it is most importantly a place set off from the rest of America. “Arlington West” is not-so-conveniently out of the way, requiring a Metro trip and a long walk through hallowed grounds, but is instead on the beach, requiring that one at the very least walk around it while trying to enjoy what the Santa Monica Pier has to offer. 

The shadows of the fallen are in the shadows of frivolity. A visitor to the Santa Monica Pier on a Sunday can try to ignore the veterans both present and represented, but to do so requires that one has already become aware of it, that a day of fun for the family has already become tinged with a reminder of all the days lost for the fallen. It would come as no surprise therefore if those who happen upon “Arlington West” would not only try to ignore it, but would resent it, wishing that it was somewhere else, somewhere where it belonged, somewhere like a Metro stop in Arlington, VA.

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Misogyny, Violence, and Responsibility: #YesAllWomen vs. #NotAllMen
From my piece:
To take up responsibility is consequently to take up our humanity, just as to avoid responsibility is to avoid our humanity. A man cannot simultaneously claim to be responsible to #YesAllWomen while claiming on #NotAllMen to not be responsible for #YesAllWomen. 
Misogyny is not the result of any one action by any one man. Misogyny is the atmosphere in which we live, an atmosphere of violence that is ever-pervasive for women as what is “normal,” and that is ever-invisible to men as what is “normal.” It is the normalcy of misogyny that allows the Elliot Rodger’s of the world to feel entitled to sex and to blame women for not living up to his expectations. And it is the normalcy of misogyny that is only worsened when our response to the Elliot Rodger’s of the world is to run to #NotAllMen to make clear how little we are like him, rather than running to #YesAllWomen to realize how much we can, should, and must identify with him. There is some of Elliot Rodger in all men—even if for no other reason than because we are also men—and it is only by recognizing the Elliot Rodger inside of us that we can begin to be responsible to #YesAllWomen.
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dangerous Subjects

For Nietzsche, the idea that we are Cartesian subjects, or the creators of our own thoughts—or, likewise, the creators of our own drawings—is "simply a formulation of our grammatical custom that adds a doer to every deed"...

Being a big fan of both Nietzsche and Freud, I found myself drawing them recently when I suddenly became paralyzed with what seemed to be the awesome responsibility of giving them a cartoon worthy of their stature. Having not been making cartoons for very long, I don't know if this is a problem generally felt in the cartooning world, but this was certainly new to me. I have experienced anxiety in teaching Nietzsche and Freud, and in quoting Nietzsche and Freud (especially in my new book), but I have never before had any problem including Nietzsche and Freud in jokes of any kind.

Nietzsche would have made a great guardian angel, or so I like to imagine...

Something about Nietzsche and Freud together, about putting them in this specific juxtaposition, left me feeling overwhelmed. As such I tried creating not one cartoon out of my drawing, but two. You can judge the results for yourself, but this anxiety over this drawing of two of the Fathers of Angst is likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

If anyone would have deconstructed their own portraits, it would have been these two...

Perhaps it's even a manifestation of my concern that I'm starting to enjoy drawing philosophers more than I enjoy quoting them in papers...
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Freud!

Freud loved creating "portraits" of people, so why not return the favor?

If Freud's letters to his friends are to be taken at face value—which, of course, was something Freud would never have done—then he was clearly not a big fan of either birthdays or growing older...

To Thomas Mann, for Mann's 60th birthday: 

I could wish you a very long and happy life, as is the custom on such occasions. But I shall refrain from doing so; the bestowal of wishes is trivial and seems to me a regression into the era when mankind believed in the magic omnipotence of thought. My most personal experience, moreover, tends to make me consider it a good thing when merciful fate puts a timely end to our span of life.

To Stefan Zweig, on Freud's 80th birthday:

...although I have been exceptionally happy in my home, with my wife and children in particular with one daughter who to a rare extent satisfies all the expectations of a father, I nevertheless cannot reconcile myself to the wretchedness and helplessness of old age, and look forward with a kind of longing to the transition into nonexistence. 

To Lou Andreas-Salomé, on Freud's 80th birthday:

What an amount of good nature and humor it takes to endure the gruesome business of growing old! The garden outside and the flowers in the room are beautiful, but the spring is a Fopperei [trans: mockery], as we say in Vienna.

To Albrecht Schaeffer, on September 19 (my birthday), three days before he died on September 22, 1939:

I am more than eighty-three years old, thus actually overdue, and there is really nothing left for me but to follow your poem's advice: Wait, wait.
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Marx and Kierkegaard!

Couldn't think of what else to get Marx and Kierkegaard, so I drew them this...

From Joakim Garff's Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, an anecdote about the time Marx and Kierkegaard met, perhaps:
...Friedrich Schelling, a shy man but perhaps romanticism's greatest philosopher, who in 1841 had just been appointed to Berlin to combat the all-engulfing Hegelianism and who was now lecturing to a packed house on his Philosophy of Revelation. The crowd was enormous, as was the noise, and not a few showed up in vain and were compelled to stand outside, knocking on the windows of the auditorium in which, incidentally, Karl Marx also was sitting, trying to follow along as best he could. Kierkegaard considered abandoning Schelling as early as the conclusion of his introductory lecture on November 15, but he decided to continue despite everything. And that was good, because during the second lecture a little miracle, in fact, took place: "I am so happy to have heard Schelling's second lecture—indescribably so. I have long groaned, and thoughts within me have groaned, in travail. Then he spoke the word 'actuality,' about the relation of philosophy to actuality, and the unborn babe of thought within me leapt for joy..."