Hegel’s man is the type who starts off by crying over split milk (the Unhappy Consciousness confronted by the objective world). Then he beings to ‘philosophise’ about it, and dries his eye, because he has come to know the situation as it really is. Marx’s man will immediately point out that this is all very well, but the milk is still on the floor. He will reach for the mop and do something about it. Hegel’s man, however, still retains one potent defence. he will regard the antics of his friend with an amused contempt, and point out to him how silly it is to get one’s knew dirty trying to clean the floor, when all the situation demands is a little high-level reflection.
From Marx’s Paris Writings – John MaGuire
though the floor would get muddled, we could read this with Heidegger’s ‘Letter on Humanism’ introducing not only Martin, but Jean Paul Sartre as well. And then with Sartre, Beauvoir and already with Heidegger, Arendt.
Sartre and Marx would mop. Heidegger and Hegel would stand by and smirk, though hidden cameras might show the mops’ earlier arrivals via Heidegger’s hand. Oddly, Arendt might call Zizek in, as inevitably he’d be waiting outside, pacing and wondering what Hitchcock would do with all these scenes and actors.
I’m being silly. and then again, I’m not.
What can be said about philosophy, about action, about thinking… now. In a recent talk in NYC, Zizek said he was reading Lacan in order to bring the German Idealists back, knowing full well and admitting that such an action is really far more provocative, risque and risky then any of the art movements who claim to be pushing boarders and buttons in their skin bare works. But is it really risky? John Maguire reading Marx might say that until Zizek picks up the mop, he is all thought and no action. Yet Marx himself, a prolific writer and theorist troubled those milky waters long before Maguire began to write about him.
I’d like to side with Heidegger in the way he nullified the mind/body thought/action distinction. Yet isn’t this where Heidegger’s own political alliances (with National Socialism) call us all to question?
And isn’t the question precisely that of the nature of the call?
In a brilliant analysis of Heidegger’s understanding of the call of conscience, Avital Ronell pulls no punches: her debut text, the Telephone Book proposes a multiplicity of splits, not of mind and body, or thought and action, but of mind and mind, and mind again. We know this splitting as schizophrenia and her point is that the one called is never one. The caller is never singular and someone is always on the line, be it an operator on the switch or a censor on the prowl… the caller and the called are never alone, are never only two, are never less than multiple.
what does this do to Praxis? are we left either to smirk or to mop? to we smirk first, and mop later? do we smirk and find someone else to mop?
i am asking. i am acting. i am asking.