nikki moore

Posts Tagged ‘Simone de Beauvoir’

to cry or to mop over spilled milk…

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

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.



In philosophy as biography, Subjection on January 9, 2009 at 3:19 pm

it’s a false choice.

memoir or philosophy.  if i start, i start from i.  to pronounce on my life as i saw it or life as i see it: it’s a false choice.

i’m reading de beauvoir.again.

did she see the overlap?  

in memoirs of a dutiful daughter, a surprise ending reveals a daughter who is not simone, but her best friend, Zaza.  the question raised is of the subject proper and asking this question properly, proprietarily, (what is not) simone’s story ends in hysteria.  the loving daughter cannot find her feet as her mother continues to sweep them out from under her, moving her to berlin (of all places) each time she seems to be on solid ground. simone writes herself, writes Zaza, as prey to propriety.

yet in the second sex, in true historical form, simone writes woman into a propriety that suffocates as it hopes to suffice, to explain, to show contingencies when at all possible.  a venerable act..? it is the same act she performs in the dutiful daughter.  a tracing, an anthropology even, of how one woman, how all women, fall prey to propitiation.  

true, i’ve not reached the conclusion yet.  and to be painfully honest, i skipped over bits of the history.  buying the contingency argument, i’m not convinced that knowing in which ways men broke women’s hymens before sex is all that critical to how i will see myself when i wake up tomorrow.  but isn’t that something closer to denial than i’d like to admit?  (clearly) i’m not anti-historical, after all…

what’s the problem here?

i’m bother by a question i can’t answer.  not without considerable compromise.  the claim made by beauvoir and others is that women are women in childbearing.  it is the body that differentiates, and it is the body designed for the purpose of procreation that matters.

sowould i accept sexual difference if i’d accept my own salvation?  (1 Timothy 2:13-15)

 isn’t this feminist argument essentially an echo of what is already given as proper?

i.e.: ‘women will be saved through childbearing’

saved.  apparently in greek (sozo) this can mean:

1)to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one
suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health

1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction,
to save or rescue

but my sources are suspect.  i got them from a biblical translation site, and when i googled the word ‘sozo’ on my own, only other biblical sites came up.  something’s fishy.  something’s rigged.

but didn’t i know that to start?  can it make sense to read the bible in search of something other than propriety?



isn’t this something of what nancy is up to?  this mitsein, this community.  isn’t he tracing old texts, old terrain on this front?

i can’t answer these questions today.  you could say i’m barren on the subject…

where do i start?

In Love, Subjection on December 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm

and again… precisely.

what does conversation with the divine sound like? (perhaps it isn’t sounding?)  Amy Hollywood, in Sensible Ecstasy, paints the picture of the painters of 13th century hagiography as voyeurs, theological peeping toms: men looking for the proof of god in a woman’s body.

…i may be wrong, but isn’t that what men are always up to?

but the question is not what men are up to, but what women are up for… who they are up for and what they are up against.

what am i talking about?  

moving from bataille to lacan (though frankly i think bataille could have sat this one out) and from Christina the Asthonishing to Luce Irigaray, is it too much to say that Hollywood is brilliantly working a philo-theological Love Connection?  Or is it more precisely, Hollywood Squares?  It was a hokey show, but the grid was nice – 3 boxes across by three boxes down.  What if we mixed the two game shows?  Then we could plant Beauvoir in the upper right of our tic-tac-toe grid and quiz her. Just guessing, but it seems safe to say that her ideal date would be with God, I mean with man… what I am trying to say is it would be with the ideal(ized) man.  

“When in the Second Sex Beauvoir argues that women attempt to justify their existences through an other, whether human or divine, she echoes these accounts of her own early adolescent experience (found in When Things of the Spirit Comes First as well as in Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter).  In her autobiographical writings the movement is from love of God to love of man; in the Second Sex, she reverses this trajectory: ‘Love has been assigned to woman as her supreme vocation, and when she directs it toward a man, she seeks God in him; if circumstances deny her human love, if she is disappointed or demanding, it is in God himself that she will choose to adore the divinity’ (DS II 582; SS 743) In both forms of experience, women attempt to justify their existence through another. ”  Hollywood, Amy.  Sensible Ecstasy, p. 127

Back to our game grid, just to Beauvoir’s right, in the top row on center, we might find Saint Theresa of Avila whose writings are the intellectual sign of subjectivity beyond body, beyond sex.  Saint Theresa and Beauvoir might meet up in human society, in their engagement with the world. Clearly Theresa’s ideal lover would be the object outside herself – be it God, or, as it would be for Beauvoir, project.

“According to Beauvoir, what marks Teresa off from other mystics is that the divine supports her in projects that go beyond the self and involve active engagement with the world and other beings in the world.” Hollywood, p. 134 

To the right of Saint Theresa of Avila, Hollywood has already placed Jacques Lacan.  Focusing on Seminar 20: Encore where Lacan articulates the fallibility of the signifier and introduces the concept of signifiance Hollywood’s Sensible Ecstasy tells the story of a breakup so divisive it is (de)foundational, not only for language, but for bodies as well.  We now know this story as the tale of metaphysics’ impossibility, and also as the impossibility of masculine (phallic) wholeness and/or meaning.  It is hard to pair Lacan with anyone on the Love connection.  Not only does he theorize the unbridgeable gap between men and women, he refuses to partner with those who try.

Take Irigaray for example.  Or don’t.  Hollywood points out that the argument over Irigaray’s essentialism is largely based on a misreading (albeit one she invites via other problematics) of her textual injunction to create a feminine divine with stories, vocabulary and sociality strong enough to overcome the phallic slide and insight desire via mutual recognition.  Lacan will hear nothing of it.

We’ll have to leave an X over his square.  Or would a hollow O be more appropriate?

For tonight, the rest of these grid assignments and XOXO’s will have to wait until I am more awake. 


“Beauvoir insists that this divine person is male.  Whereas in a pathological case of erotomania, a woman explains that ‘each time I seek God, I find a man” (DS II 584, SS 745). the mystic sees God both in men and in their absence”  Hollywood, Amy. Sensible Ecstasy, p 127

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?”  Ernest Hemingway