Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Night of the World.

The other day I watched Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Žižek's  The Pervert's Guide to Cinema and one moment that caught my attention was when Žižek discussed the Hegelian notion of "the nigh of the world".   I had never heard of this before so I when online and tracked it down, here is the crucial passage:
"The human being is this Night, this empty nothing which contains everything in its simplicity – a wealth of infinitely many representations, images, none of which occur to it directly, and none of which are not present. This [is] the Night, the interior of [human] nature, existing here – pure Self – [and] in phantasmagoric representations it is night everywhere: here a bloody head suddenly shoots up and there another white shape, only to disappear as suddenly. We see this Night when we look a human being in the eye, looking into a Night which turns terrifying. [For from his eyes] the night of the world hangs out toward us". -  Hegel, The Philosophy of Spirit (Jena Lectures 1805-6).

This passage is often interpreted as a statement of the 'radical negativity' of the human psyche.  I can see a kind of poetic appeal, if not anti-poetic appeal in this idea.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Thesis Acknowledgement.

I printed off a copy of my honours thesis, Discerning Knowers: An Exploratory Study of University Students' Perceptions of Knowledge Claims,  today with a view to reread it and give it a final edit before I let people read it (and to see if I can get a research paper or two out of it). I thought I'd take a picture of the acknowledgement page and post it up here in appreciation of those who, though named and nameless, know who they are.  For those who can't make the snapshot out (click on it to expand it), it reads:

"I would like to thank Albert Camus for letting me know: if there is a sin against the thesis, it lies perhaps less in despairing of the thesis as in hoping for another thesis, and in evading the implacable grandeur of the thesis we have.   Or perhaps he meant life, I can’t quite remember.
I would also like to thank the proof readers, participants, fellow honours’ students, supportive friends and family, and my supervisor Dr Karl Maton."
I was in a rush to the finish line when I wrote the acknowledgement.  I thought about adding a thank you to the musicians and bands that provided the soundtrack to the thesis writing and the cafes along Glebe Point Road that I sat in fretting over open books and my laptop. So, in that spirit,  I would like to acknowledge The Rolling Stones, The Smiths, Chopin and Nick Drake; and the staff at Well Connected and Sappho books, Cafe and Wine Bar.