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Escargotesque, or, What Is Experience

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ISBN: 9780692373880 Year: Pages: 116 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0089.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:40
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“Experience” is a concept paradoxically deployed to accentuate the aconceptual. Although thinking, knowing, reflecting, and analyzing are kinds of experiences, invocations of “experience” typically direct our attention to what is immediate, embodied, unrepresented, unthought, even unthinkable. And yet, whether by learning experience, traumatic experience, life experience, mystical experience, or all of these, we hope most fervently that our experience will teach us, transform us, become part of us. Why do we strive to find, profit from, and possess experience while insisting upon experience’s intellectual elusiveness? What do we intend when we petition (and re-petition) experience for truth, for growth, for strength? To whom or to what do we sing when we sing experience’s song? Escargotesque, or, What is Experience? asks why both our lived experiences and our mythologies of experience so often fold inward, repeat, return. Departing from his unusual experience of working as a garbage-collector in the West African country of Benin, M.H. Bowker converses with several champions of experience (from Michel de Montaigne to John Dewey, from Søren Kierkegaard to Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Simone Weil to R.D. Laing) to pose radical questions about the intentions and dynamics that guide our quest for experience, intentions and dynamics that are more destructive and more melancholy than celebrants of experience would care to admit. Across Escargotesque’s six loosely linear parts, fragments of prose memoir intersect with poetry, sketch art, philosophical reflection, cultural criticism, and psychological examination in ways that both evoke and unsettle the thinking person’s experience. Escargotesque both testifies to an experience and reveals surprising fantasies driving the modern and postmodern turn to experience as a source of truth and hope. Such fantasies include the sacredness of even the most violent ‘pure experience,’ the necessity of supplicating experience’s objects, and the ultimate demise of the one who experiences.

Ostranenie: On Shame and Knowing

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ISBN: 9780615744797 Year: Pages: 50 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0019.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:45
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Ostranenie, the term for defamiliarization introduced by Russian writer and critic Victor Shklovsky, means, among other things, to see in strangeness. To see in strangeness is to participate in an illusion that is more real than real. It may be achieved by (re)presenting the surface as the substance, the play as the thing, or by examining (from exigere: to drive out) what is present before one’s eyes. Ultimately, ostranenie means confessing one’s complicity in making known what is known. M.H. Bowker’s Ostranenie: On Shame and Knowing is a meditation upon the moment of a mother’s death: a moment of defamiliarization in several senses. The body of the work consists of footnotes which elaborate, by exegesis, by parataxis, and sometimes by surprise, the intimate and often hidden relationships between parent and child, illusion and knowledge, shame and loss. These elaborations raise questions about the power of the familiar, the limitations of discursive thought, and the paradoxical nature of the interpersonal, political, and spiritual bargains we make for the sake of security and freedom.

Misinterest

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ISBN: 9781950192298 9781950192304 Year: Pages: 166 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0256.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Psychology --- Social Sciences --- Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2019-07-03 11:21:05
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"The term “interest” lacks a precise antonym. In English, we have “disinterested” and “uninteresting,” but we want for a term that denotes robust opposition to interest. The same appears to hold true in every other language (as far as we know). Interest’s missing antonym reflects not merely a widespread lexical oversight, but a misrecognition of interest’s complete and exact meaning. More importantly, the idea that interest has no opposite expresses a certain refusal to acknowledge the power of the impulse to extinguish interest, for the self and for others.

Why then do we foreclose interest’s possibility, degrade our (and others’) capacities to experience interest, and destroy interest’s objects? Why do we decline what interest proffers — which includes creative and subjective being, thinking, and relating — in favor of more primitive modes of survival, thoughtlessness, and nonbeing? Why do relationships — with ourselves, with others, with objects — toward which genuine interest draws us seem sometimes, if not often, unbearable?

These questions are difficult. Their answers, even more so. Misinterest: Essays, Pensées, and Dreams attempts to approach them in an honest way, without making them fascinating, mysterious, boring, obscurantist, or fascinatingly mysteriously boringly obscurantist. Outwardly, Misinterest is concerned with dreams and forgetting and Eros and soaring dogs and groups and suicidal suburban teenagers and sex and jury duty and Nazis and fathers and hatred and holy parrots and fundamentalists and plagues and other things that may or may not be interesting. Ultimately, however, it seeks, like Jules Renard, “en restant exact” (in remaining true/real), to shed light on the establishment of misinterest, missingness, and mystery where and when they need not be, and, thus, on the psychic, familial, and political forces that compel us not to be when and where we ought."

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