The Partially Examined Life
Continuing on What is Literature? (1948).
Sartre gives a phenomenology of reading and writing that makes reading into a creative act of completing the writer's work, and calls this cooperation ethical: the work is an appeal to the reader's freedom, and also the reader's responsibility to then know what the work reveals. Are you shirking, all you skimmers?
End song: "Things I Shouldn't Have Told You" by Sam Phillips, as interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #90.
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Stevie has been recording pop tunes and/or wild experiments nearly continually since the late 60s, with hundreds of albums, many of them compilations of home recordings.
We discuss "Pop Music" and "Take Back" from Afterlife (2019) and "The House Is Not in Order" by R. Stevie Moore and Alan Jenkins and the Kettering Vampires from The Embodiment of Progressive Ideals (2018) and conclude by listening to "I H8 Ppl" by R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner from Make It Be (2017). Bonus songs: "Pervert" from World War 4 (2016) and (at the end) "Goodbye, Piano" from Phonography (1976). Intro: "I Like to Stay Home" from Glad Music (1986). For more, see rsteviemoore.com.
On Jean-Paul Sartre's What is Literature (1948), ch. 1 and 2.
What's the purpose of literature? Why write prose as opposed to poetry? Sartre argues that while poetry is about the words themselves, prose is about the ideas, so it's necessarily political. A written work is essentially an ethical appeal for a reader to apply his or her own faculties and experiences to complete the work through the act of reading.
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Moving finally on to Jean-Paul Sartre's "Black Orpheus" (1948), where he introduces a book of black poetry by praising its revolutionary spirit as embodied in "negritude." Is this a legitimate consciousness-raising exercise or a weird fetishization of blackness?
End song: "Punch Bag" by Godley & Creme as discussed on Nakedly Examined Music #3.
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Continuing on Jean-Paul Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (1946).
Is there an "authentic" way to respond to persecution? As part of his critique of anti-semitism, Sartre criticized the responses of some Jews to this situation, e.g. denying that the persecution exists, pretending to not be Jewish, or in any way accepting the terms of anti-semitism and setting up one's life in reaction to it. Sartre instead recommends solidarity and "concrete liberalism," which we try to figure out.
On Jean-Paul Sartre's Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate (1946) and "Black Orpheus" (1948).
How can we best understand the psychology of racism? Sartre condemns anti-Semitism as denying the facts of the human condition: the responsibility for fixing problems and not blaming them on a demonized other. But he also criticizes "the democrat" for a humanism that pretends we're in a post-racial world, calling instead for "concrete liberalism" that treats Jews not as abstract individuals but as real people in an an oppressed situation.
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Continuing on Black Skin White Masks (1952), starting with the influential ch. 4 "The Fact of Blackness." Are the successive coping strategies to racism (including "anti-racist racism" and embrace of negritude) that Fanon describes necessary steps in a dialectic which should be encouraged, or would it be best to learn from his "mistakes" and jump right to the humanistic end-point? With guest Lawrence Ware.
End song: "Malaika" by John Etheridge and Vimala Rowe; hear John interviewed on Nakedly Examined Music #85.
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