Eagle and serpent

explorations and philosophy: in the world, of the world

Tag: elitism

Jesters allowed

A rather disturbing remark closed a fine Žižek documentary. Reacting to someone’s question about the ‘funniness’ side of his popularity, he raised his concern of that in many places he is only published/read/heard when he tells jokes when confronting serious social and political issues. In other words–being funny is the prerequisite of having voice!

The importance lies in that elite-disturbing talk is not welcome at all, with the natural exception of ‘eccentric professors’, ‘artists’ and other marginal groups whose very existence legitimates the canon of ‘liberal democracy’. And when they do raise their voice, they are only allowed to do it when they take the time not to confront the status quo directly.

Hence, every time one feels the urge to voice criticism, one should adopt the helpful attitude of actively planting ‘comediality’ to one’s talk; thus avoiding the direct confrontation of the established language-game!

A thought that also rang my Rorty-bell immediately (Contingency, irony, and solidarity: pp. 48)!

Those who speak the old language and have no wish to change, those who regard it as a hallmark of rationality or morality to speak just that language, will regard as altogether irrational the appeal of the new metaphors – the new language game which the radicals, the youth, or the avant-garde are playing. The popularity of the new ways of speaking will be viewed as a matter of “fashion” or “the need to rebel” or “decadence.” The question of why people speak this way will be treated as beneath the level of conversation – a matter to be turned over to psychologists or, if necessary, the police.

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This is not…

One of the most often heard outcries in art galleries, universities, and conferences starts: “This is not…”

Be it ‘art’, ‘philosophy’ or ‘science’, each has their very own guardians devoting time and effort on the assessment, fulfillment and reproduction of the criteria of their precious doctrine. As if the ‘art’ would disappear if the linguistic conventions surrounding it would (and they inevitably are) be structured and re-structured.

And I’m not talking about the underlying theory of truth shaping the world-view of the guardian, but rather the need for ontological security through departmentalist smothering.

Acclaimed French sociologist/anthropologist/philosopher Pierre Bourdieu noted (in his famous Distinction) that different tastes emerge from fundamentally negative positioning. Someone is not to be associated with something–the definition being absence rather than presence.

This puts the current departmentalisation of knowledge and even scholarship into a questionable light, in the very ‘scientific’ terms that it outspokenly embraces. How is it possible that (at least in my mind) most fundamentally new insights emerge from the ranks of talented generalists refusing to take a tag of one camp or another?

Lever attitude

It’s such a long time since reading a blog moved something inside. And…oh, yes.

Would it be cool to have an espresso bar in the middle of the town that would inhabit lever machines, skilled baristas and a flow of interested customers—only? Single 1, doppio 2 units of currency.

Fancy milk? F*ck off!

Tourists and travellers

One of the most prevailing topics in hostels and guesthouses during the evening hang-out is the classic distinction between us travellers and mere tourists. Sometimes you meet outspoken and even proud (?) tourists, but usually the narrator himself is a sailor of the uncharted seas.

Whereas it is undeniably lucrative to tag oneself as ‘brave’, ‘explorer’ and ‘free spirit’, one should perhaps take a moment to really put it in the context. True, there are the poles of the ‘samsonite-herd-animals’ and those that have totally abandoned (or been abandoned by) the organised society possessing only flip-flops, sarong and attitude. Although these extremes exist, there are lots of shades of gray between them.

I don’t like advance payments to strangers, let them be travel agencies or airlines. Despite this, I admit that I have a blueprint or a rough idea of my near-future whereabouts (subject to change) while travelling. If a tourist is defined as a person booking flights or buses more than a day in advance, then I fall in the other category. On the other hand, I’m far away from the extent some people are willing to go, one example here and another here.

One should perhaps balance one’s own ambiguity avoidance / adventure ratio.

Coffee and elitism

After too long a while it’s nice to be back. And what would be more rewarding than to write about one’s passions, one of them being coffee!

Most of the legends and rumours about English food culture are simply not true; the restaurant scene is definitely among the most impressive ones that I have ever had the honour to witness. One thing keeps depressing me, however. It is the state of coffee drinking in this country.

As James Hoffmann eloquently discusses this in his blog, one of the main forms of ingesting coffee-like substances is instant (or put nicely, ‘soluble’) coffee. All this in a country that boasts of being the birthplace and inventor of tea-drinking, at least in the Old Continent!

Personally, I do not mind walking for ten minutes after lunch to get my hands on a decent espresso. Regrettably, I have not been able to find the same willingness in many of my peers. And to be honest, I have to admit that I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of the high quality outlets in town, Monmouth, already during the first days of my stay here. This, if anything, has contributed to my disposition of the status of drinking quality coffee in London.

The conclusive point Jim makes, however, is cultural, rather than a solely coffee-bound one. After all, England is not the only place in the world that has a cultural allergy towards snobbery. In the land of Father Christmas, bad pizzas and boorish manners nothing is judged worse than a person who is not willing to give in to the common ‘standards’. This being the case, the following quote from Jim goes to all of them in Ultima Thule that have been whining about my selective tastes:

I am a snob. I don’t want to drink something that tastes bad. I don’t want to eat something that tastes bad and will probably hasten my demise (I am looking at you Ronald McD.)