Kenneth Smith

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, money, capitalism, culture, modernity, meaning, and values

The modern world has got a variety of Midas' disease, the one where everything a whore touches turns whorish because nobody can see past the money any longer to the meaning of anything.  I suppose this is "culture" considered as a form of STD, where it isn't natural generation that is the central and obsessive principle of everything but rather Money, the principle of all fertility for artificial generation:  instead of the "gift that keeps on giving," it's the mania that keeps on taking.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, war, abstractivism, conscience, scientism, consciousness, modernity, and nihilism

Just as totalitarian epochs have aptly been described as nightmare-interludes in which a society's continuity of "normalizing" self-consciousness lapses into a black pit of nescience and denial (a collective urge of wanting NOT TO KNOW--see Arendt's ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM), so too with war itself, which is inevitably some species of demoniacal terrorism:  even the "victors" in a modern war are victims, dehumanized utensils for imperialist policy; and those who inflict hideous suffering on others are traumatized to the end of their lives by the horrific things they discovered they were capable of doing.  John Huston's lines from CHINATOWN--"Most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and in the right place, they are capable of anything"--is meant as an obliquely self-incriminating insight into the covert nihilism of modern hyper-power and macro-wealth; but in truth, in essence, it is just the knife's edge of Goethe's superb aristic and contramodern verdict:  "Everything that sets our minds free without giving us mastery over ourselves is pernicious."  The quintessential dementia of modern "consciousness" is just its sheer self-abstraction from conscience, from community, from values, from religion, from culture, from purpose, and from its own reason. We have been trained to "know" banausically, to know without caring, without judging or evaluating or grasping the larger significance of anything. That is what is called "science" and "fact" and "information."

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, truth, capitalism, and science

The rise of techno-science and capitalism, bent on controlling all things just through their inherent chaotism (the weaknesses or vices in their organicism), is a concerted determination to make human existence a grandiose mechanistic apparatus, an infinitely regimented economy:  nothing in human psyche or natural resources or the “noosphere” of ideas should escape the net of lawful determinations extrapolated from the fictive “first principle” of Money or Capital.  —If we encountered this coordinated web of irrationalist compulsions among a primitive tribe or an alien species, we would recognize it for what it actually is, a cult or mania; but since it is a cult or mania that has owned the Western world free and clear for the past five or six centuries, it is instead adulated and revered as “ultimate truth,” as the divinely decreed and fated Way Things Are and Will Eternally Remain.

Kenneth Smith

Source: http://www.tcj.com/?p=1000

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, marx, kafka, kierkegaard, isolationism, privatism, self-interest, and ego

All cities, all geography, even all art and music and writings and inventions are fastidiously subdivided into parcels of proprietary claims:  all the world, under the virtually theological rule of modern egology (“ego” taken as a ruling principle), is meticulously defined as “mine” versus “thine,” “ours” versus “theirs.”  We use our homes as we use our bodies, as we use our faces and our words as well:  as a mask and a shield, a barrier to exclude others.  Kafka captured the nightmarish dementia of man self-considered as an obscure and obsessive sort of reclusive mole (“The Burrow”), paranoiacally banking up involuted underground labyrinths against the anxiety of being invaded.  Kierkegaard, whom Kafka esteemed, had already written intricate expressions and symptomatologies of an “esthetic” type of personality hellbent on retreating from the public, natural or social domain, living a pathologically secretive life of perverse games and exploitative self-interestedness.  And Marx as well saw the capitalist or bourgeois class in toto as a constitutionally self-concealing and mendacious character-type, doomed always to relate to language and action only as a way of systematically misrepresenting their true purposes and qualities of personality.  The bourgeois world-construct is functionally complete when its underclass has been systematically and intimately hemmed-in by its ideological virtualities, the contrived and projected “false consciousness” in which it has been axiomatically catechized.

Kenneth Smith

Source: http://www.tcj.com/?p=605

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, possessions, modernity, egologism, privatism, isolationism, ego, sharing, generosity, culture, politics, democracy, and aristeia

From moderns’ manic phobias about socialism and communism it is patent that this is a civilization of paralytic egologism, of psychotic proprietarism:  the American aborigines who were genocidally extinguished by waves of whites saw most sharply the truth about modernity’s manias—“The love of possessions is a disease with them.”  In moderns’ culture of abstracted ego and intensified but destitute “consciousness,” the aristic ethos not just of sharing and generosity but also of open communication, forthrightness, honesty, and candor has demonstrably perished.  There are utterly not enough aristic personalities surviving to make a commonality of culture feasible any longer:  “politics” has become a dark euphemism for organized deception, hi-tech manipulation, and Olympian Machiavellian intrigues, and “democracy” in that world-order is so moribund it can be little more than a pious verbalism, a rhetorical fraud.

Kenneth Smith

Source: http://www.tcj.com/?p=605

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, conformity, consciousness, elitism, democratism, americans, communism, corporations, culturalization, and thinking

In spite of the actuality that no one who is not extraordinarily cultured can even begin to think for himself, and Americans are not even remotely cultured personalities; and in spite of the actuality that marriages, families, religions, languages, public funds, public schools and libraries and post offices and clinics and even corporations and mass-media are all forms of “communism,” Americans take “mind control” and “communism” as the horror of all horrors (witness the cyclical crusades of Red Scares, the ever-piquant Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.).  But in spite of such a phobia against losing proprietary control of their “own” minds, Americans are one of the most cult-prone, mass-organized and –manipulable collectivities that has ever existed, as abject and pathos-besotted conformists down to their slavish toenails.  In the early nineteenth century De Tocqueville already observed this striking phobia among Americans against standing alone and thinking for oneself.  The bonds of subrational control over us are more potent than ever precisely because the critical culture, the “know thyself” that would make such controls accessible to conscious evaluation, has withered to nothing, eaten away by democratist fear of “elitist” critical intelligence and proprietarist neglect of and contempt for public education.

Kenneth Smith

Source: http://www.tcj.com/?p=548

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, intellectualism, passion, rationality, emotion, apathy, opinion, truth, freedom, boredom, and defeatism

From its abstractionist posture, intellectualism typically conveys the impression that it is chiefly or only from passion that rationality can suffer; the folk-wisdom among rationalists is that emotion is the primary pollutant obstructing rational processes. But it is also, and far more pertinently in our age, from apathy that rationality suffers: when people do not care enough to think about received opinions, when they have no inherent drive to dissociate themselves from the dogmas and biases of their age, when their own freedom and the transcendence of the truth mean so little to them that they will not endure the painful task of self-reflection, when the very scale or profundity of problems the modern age has generated invite a defeatist attitude, then indeed it is truer than ever what Kierkegaard wrote a century and a half ago: "What the age needs is passion," not barbaric but sublimated energy. Hegel's truism about history--that "nothing great is ever accomplished without passion"--explains a great deal about our effete culture, our sterile education and stagnant politics. Like Marx and Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Hegel wrote out of a prodigious reservoir of passion that did not in the least prevent them from being critical and rational. In our present era--wracked by a morbid boredom and an unshakeable conviction that there is nothing worth learning and preserving--I believe the lesson is clear. Difficult and risky as it may be, heat as well as light is called for.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, honesty, discerning, treasure, own path, and perceptive

A human being who shows some singular or distinctive indications of being anomalous, of actually being capable of uncompromising honesty with himself, is worth investigating and listening to or reading or challenging or raising questions with; but in the marketplace of the Many, all the multitudes of signs and treasure-maps will only convince a discerning individual that the X that marks "buried treasure" is the last place in the world to waste one's time digging for buried treasure--cunning and perceptive people who really have treasure buried someplace will convey tacitly to other cunning and perceptive people that the best place to bury treasure is in those places where no naive or simplistic mentality would ever think of looking.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, god, belief, dialectics, and moderns

I start off with the obvious, that it makes no sense either to believe or to disbelieve in God until a substantial and intelligent definition or concept should be offered. Belief or disbelief is a secondary consideration, contingent on the intelligibility and cogency of the premise; the primal unintelligence or irrationality of moderns is revealed by their eagerness to leap to a conclusion without ever being curious what the hell the original premise was.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, america, education, freedom, democracy, will, politics, and economics

American democracy is a chess-game in which pawns imagine themselves to be free individuals with wills of their own: that delusion is one of the rules of the game, without which the game could not continue. I doubt anyone, no matter how sharp and sharp-tongued, could succeed in getting across to high school students how vital an acute mind is for just keeping a grip on one's life and earnings in our mendacious politics and economics. No wonder our school system is devoutly dedicated to demoralizing and blunting such minds.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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