Friday, January 23, 2009

Being-against Heidegger

First of all, I should have posted responses to everyone's comments. If I missed anything, just post again. Thanks as always.

In other news, I seem to be the last person to notice that Graham Harman now has a blog, and he's been blogging like a madperson, . Regardless, he has had two posts that I have found interesting. First, he has a post on authors we don't like, and he means authors we seriously don't like. But in an earlier post, he had a hilarious and I think on point view of heideggerians:
Imagine that you spent your formative years in a specific church. You were always critical of it, but valued its insights highly. You were never especially welcome there, but also not rudely unwelcome. And then gradually you realized that everyone was not just reading the Scripture, but also sipping a bit of the Kool-Aid every Sunday, and that you were tacitly expected to do the same. Worse yet, you’d often overhear the other church members saying: “These people are crazy! I’m the only sane person in this church.” That’s sort of what Heideggerianism can be like, and I’m not sad to have little to do with it anymore.

What this makes me think of is how important being-against Heidegger has been for my philosophical trajectory. And, perhaps, the longest running philosophical relationship. Longer than my obsession with Deleuze (who is still important for me, but not as important), more staying than my distaste for Derrida, definitively more powerful than my original distrust of Agamben. Heck, second-wave feminism doesn't get as under my skin as it used to, but Heidegger still does. Many of these seem comical in retrospect, but what I have never paid a lot of thought is why is Heidegger so exceptional to me?

Well, part of it is clearly that Heidegger is a serious and true thinker. If he wasn't so obviously important, than being-against wouldn't matter so much. Ultimately, though, it's not a particular thought here or there that bothers me, it is an entire way of being a philosopher. I feel that it is there that Heidegger's fascism is its most apparent. And like all fascism, it is seductive. So, either philosophy is somehow anti-democratic (that is, against the power of the demos), or philosophy is in service of democracy. Either philosophy is seen as something that builds up states, lays down roots, and is a heroic vanguard. Or philosophy is seen as resolutely non-vanguardist, something that intensifies the power of the demos, something that is radicalized by the demos as it radicalizes the world. But there is something so seductive about being a hero, about being an authority, about being an experimenter (versuch and versuchung). Hence, the pyrrhic dance with Heidegger.