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November 9, 2009 - 11:44am



Male hysteria, currently on view here and here, is a strange thing. It's easy to find, among men, examples of writers like those I've just linked you to -- Ron Rosenbaum and Carlin Romano. It's harder to find them among women, though in her heyday Naomi Wolf was like this.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm always tells you to moderate your emotions in your writing, because if you don't, the writing turns out to be about your narcissistic self-display rather than about your ostensible subject. Beyond making you look unpalatable as a human being, narcissistic self-display makes your reader wonder whether you're being self-promoting, attention-seeking, needy, rather than engaging a subject that transcends your particular experience.

Rosenbaum and Romano want Heidegger's philosophical works labeled hate speech and suppressed; they write in praise of a forthcoming book by a French philosopher which argues for the criminalization of Heidegger's writings on the grounds that his fascist philosophy actively recruits new generations of fascists in Europe, America, and around the world.

One-upmanship being at the core of narcissistic writing, Rosenbaum sees Romano and raises him one. My post's title is Rosenbaum's approving quotation of a writer who sees Hannah Arendt, once Heidegger's lover, as one of the loyalists.

John C. Halasz, a commenter at the blog Crooked Timber, seems to UD to sum up the long controversy over Heidegger's politics and views well:

Whether Heidegger’s thought is “fascist through and through”, as Adorno claimed, is not a question that can be readily and easily decided. Certainly Heidegger was always an arch-conservative thinker veering toward the rechts-radikal, and there is a deep strain of a reactionary, irrationalistic, elitist cult of sacrifice built into his thought. And the recurrent trope of the dispensation of being amounting to a fated commandment,- (“a voice which no face commands”),- has an utterly authoritarian ring to it... [W]hatever one thinks of the man and his work, he did raise in a new way fundamental questions, which are centrally important to the modern consideration of the philosophical tradition, regardless of whether one rejects his exact formulation of the problematic or his answers.

Though he reviled it, Adorno engaged Heidegger's thinking with care throughout his intellectual life; he did not call for its criminalization.

An encounter with Heidegger - and with writers influenced by him - is an important component of a serious liberal arts education.

Among other things, this sort of education prepares you for the emergence of hysterics who want you to stop thinking.


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