7 May – 7 Aug 2007

W139 reading #1

(This text is only available in Dutch)

Halfjaarlijks programma bestaande uit een aantal leesgroepen rondom verschillende culturele en actuele thema's.

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Dr. Faustus Thomas Mann

By Gijs Frieling:

Doctor Faustus (1945-1947, published 1947) tells the story of composer Adrian Leverkuhn. Written down by his youth friend and companion Serenus Zeitblom it covers his life from early childhood to its early end. Leverkuhn sells his soul to the devil to get 20 years of incomparable creative potency. After these years he will fall into the hands of Mephistopheles.

One of the most remarkable differences with Goethe’s Faust is that Leverkuhn makes his deal more or less unconscious by way of being infected with syphilis. Although a lot of people consider “Der Zauberberg” to be Mann’s best book, “Doctor Faustus” embodies the ambition to fuse Germany’s development towards the third Reich, the biography of Friedrich Nietzsche, the musical revolution of Schönbergs atonality and the medieval Faust saga into one rich and convincing novel.

The influence of illness and evil on artists and their urge to sacrifice is the central theme of the book. In this regard it is at odds with a much more rational image of the artist in our times.

Tractatus Logico-philosophicus Wittgenstein

By Jelle Daaldrop:

During WO I Ludwig Wittgenstein, fighting for Austria, was captured by the Italian army. During his imprisonment he found the time to finally finish his genius work The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Showing how man is forever trapped in language, he claimed to have solved all philosophical problems. Believing the work was done, Wittgenstein turned his back on academic life for almost a decade.

During this course we will focus on the so-called Linguïstic Turn, the philosophical turning point marked by the Tractatus. Also, we will see how Wittgenstein, in the second phase of his career, commented on his earlier ideas and with the publication of Philosophische Untersuchungen (almost) undisputedly became the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

“Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß mann schweigen.” (Wittgenstein)

Sculpting in time Andrei Tarkovski

By Martijn Dijksma:

I love Tarkovsky. I am in love with his movies.

I think he touched a part of me that I hadn’t discovered myself yet, and trough his movies I saw a whole new world in cinema and in poetry.

His use of words and images are one of the most delicate and persuasive I have witnessed on the white screen.

In his book “Sculpting in time" Tarkovsky sets down his thoughts and his memories, revealing the inspirations an motives for the making of his films Ivan’s Childhood, Andrey Rublyov, Solaris, The Mirror, Stalker, Nostalgia and The sacrifice.

In his writing he is trying to explain his way of working, his methods and the history of how each movie developed to the final product.

“the birth and development of thought are subject to laws of their own, and sometimes demand forms of expression wich are quite different from the patterns of logical speculation. In my view poetic reasoning is closer to the laws by which thought develops, and thus to life itself” -A. Tarkovsky-

Communist Manifesto Karl Marx

By Marinke Marcelis:

According to Marx communism in short is to discontinue private ownership.

What Marx meant by communism has never been reduced to practice. He did not regard himself a Marxist, because what he sketched was a theory not a practice.

It had to become into being instead of being made as happened in history. According to Marx communism would arise out of capitalism. Did our welfare state prevent us from the arising of communism or does capitalism still have to change into communism, is it just a matter of time? To what extent are we only oriented towards ourselves? In what extent are we aware of the ‘group’ we live in?

Sartre seeks contact with young Marx’ practical-thinking and brings this as a statement against the East European Marxism. Satre does not leave his subject-philosophy, but his subject could now be a group.

"Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei" (written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.) and other books ("Le sang des autres" by Simone de Beauvoir and "Les jeux sont faits" by Jean-Paul Sartre) that trigger thinking about the state and the personal atmosphere we live in.

The Arcades Project Walter Benjamin

By Yasco Horsman:

“The Arcades Project” [Das Passagen-Werk] (1927-1940) is Walter Benjamin’s final, unfinished project in which he aimed to lay bare the ‘unconscious’ of 19th century Paris by studying its material culture: its fashions, architecture, street plans, advertisings, photographs, panorama’s, diorama’s, poetry, prostitution and its gambling.

As an unfinished work, it consists largely of a set of scattered notes and citations that contain some of Benjamin’s most astute observations. We will work our way through this work, attempting to discover a logic behind this constellation of ideas, quotes and descriptions.

Voice in Cinema Michael Chion

By Katarina Zdjelar:

“The voice is elusive. Once you’ve eliminated everything that is not voice itself-the body that houses it, the words it carries, the notes it sings, the traits by which it defines a speaking person, and the timbers that color it, what’s left?”

Michael Chion.

Last exit to Brooklyn Hubert Shelby jr

By Bram de Sutter:

Last exit to Brooklyn is a raw depiction of life amongst New York's junkies, hustlers, drag queens and prostitutes. An unforgettable cast of characters inhabits the housing projects, bars and streets of Brooklyn: Georgette, a hopelessly romantic and tormented transvestite; Vinnie, a disaffected and volatile youth who has never been on the right side of the law; Tralala, who can find no escape from her loveless existence; Harry, a power-hunger strike leader with a fatal secret. Living on the edge, always walking on the wild side, their alienation and aggression mask a desperate, deep human need for affection and kinship.

Gender Issues Judith Butler

By Catherine Girard:

Since its first publication in 1990, Gender Trouble by Judith Butler has widely challenged our understanding of identity issues. In this provocative and stimulating essay, the American philosopher asserts that gender (man / woman) is not the social manifestation of a biological sex (male / female), rather a constructed category within discourse.

According to Butler, the subject is thus the product of a sequence of acts, meaning that no subject pre-exists its own actions. Not only does this argument destabilize traditional binary oppositions between male and female, between man and woman, but it invites us to regard gender as a performative construct.

This reformulation of “Performativity” by Butler has now proven to provide a productive intellectual framework for thinking about marginalized sexual and gendered subjects, all the while troubling the heterosexual matrix. Also considered as the starting point of Queer studies, this book has had a tremendous impact in many intellectual fields as well as in social and political spheres.

On a broader scale, Butler rejects essentialism and questions the effective power of norms since this instability of performative identities actually allows a constant reinvention of the subject, that is to say, a possibility of resistance.

On the genealogy of morals Friedrich Nietsche

By Jens van 't Klooster:

In 'On the genealogy of morals' Nietzsche inquires into the source, the genealogy, of all values: "Are they a sign of distress, of impoverishment, of the degeneration of life? Or is there revealed in them, on the contrary, the plenitude, force, and will of life, its courage, certainty, future?" Nietzsche looks for the source of these values in our psychology. and the founding of civilization that tamed the animal inside of us.

Not only the work of contemporary Nietzscheans such as Foucault, Derrida and Deleuze, but a large part of twentieth century philosophy would be unthinkable without the influence of Nietzsche. His influence on existentialism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis,deconstructionism, ethics, aesthetics and metaphysics can not be overestimated. This is why ‘On the genealogy of morals ’ is required reading for anyone interested in contemporary philosophy. But even more than this Nietzsche is relevant for his psychological insights in human motives and emotions.

By discussing the rhetorical form of his ideas we will look at the different aspects of Nietzschean thinking. For those interested I will compile a set of interesting articles on historic and systematic aspects.

To get a taste of the exuberant Nietzschean prose, read the preface of "on the genealogy of morals" at: http://www.geocities.com/thenietzschechannel/onthe.htm