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    • AMMDI is an open-notebook hypertext writing experiment, authored by Mike Travers aka @mtraven. It's a work in progress and some parts are more polished than others. Comments welcome! More.
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  • I found myself wrestling with the text in ways that were unusual for me – eg I ended up highlighting hundreds of passages , not my usual practice. It՚s not a dispassionate book and the author is very reflexive about what he is doing: Nietzsche is probably the closest antecedent to this text, and like Nietzsche it is bracing in its assertiveness – but also makes you wonder how much danger and madness you are letting yourself be drawn into. Also echoing Nietzsche, the text talks a lot about itself and what it is trying to do:
Twin Pages

YMCYL Kindle Notes

09 Jan 2021 01:36 - 12 Apr 2022 09:30

    • Kindle Notes from You Must Change Your Life by Peter Sloterdijk
    • Things need only advance a little further and the last of the enlightened hopeful will withdraw to the countryside like the Amish of postmodernism.
    • I thought this was the greatest description of Rationalism ever and have been dropping it a lot.
    • Some newly religious entrepreneurs would like nothing more than to put the disused sites of metaphysical production back into operation overnight, as if we had simply been through a recession.
    • Thus the tiresome distinction between ‘true religion’ and superstition loses its meaning. There are only regimens that are more and less capable and worthy of propagation.
    • symbolic immune systems and ritual shells.
    • But if man genuinely produces man, it is precisely not through work and its concrete results, not even the ‘work on oneself’ so widely praised in recent times, let alone through the alternatively invoked phenomena of ‘interaction’ or ‘communication’: it is through life in forms of practice. Practice is defined here as any operation that provides or improves the actor’s qualification for the next performance of the same operation, whether it is declared as practice or not.
    • This is the nut graf. YMCYL is a philosophy of practice, or anthropotechnics, taken very broadly. It bears some resemblance to the infinite game. It also seems to be a variation, or response, to the Marxist concept of labor, which is also seen as kind of this cosmic transformative activity.
    • It is time to reveal humans as the beings who result from repetition. Just as the nineteenth century stood cognitively under the sign of production and the twentieth under that of reflexivity, the future should present itself under the sign of the exercise.
    • Our enterprise is no less than the introduction of an alternative language, and with the language an altered perspective, for a group of phenomena that tradition tended to refer to with such words as ‘spirituality’, ‘piety’, morality’, ‘ethics’ and ‘asceticism'
    • Certainly intellectual history has always resembled a refuge for malformed concepts – and after the following journey through the various stations, one will not only see through the concept of ‘religion’ in its failed design, a concept whose crookedness is second only to the hyper-bugbear that is ‘culture’.
    • immune systems at this level can be defined a priori as embodied expectations of injury and the corresponding programmes of protection and repair.
    • it is because a non-naïve approach to symbolic immune systems has itself become vital to the survival of ‘cultures’ today that cultural science is necessary.
    • In truth, the crossing from nature to culture and vice versa has always stood wide open. It leads across an easily accessible bridge: the practising life.
    • Whoever entered the debate on man did so in order to assert – as a ‘progressive’ – the equation of citizen and human, either with the intention of abolishing the nobles as secessionists of humanity or elevating humanity as a whole to nobility, or – as a ‘reactionary’ – to portray man as the originally sinful, corrupted and unstable animal that one should, for one’s own sake, never release from the hand of its taskmasters – or, medievally put, its correctores.
    • Wherever one encounters human beings, they are embedded in achievement fields and status classes. Even the outside observer cannot entirely escape the binding nature of such hierarchical phenomena, as much as they might try to view their tribal idols in isolation.
    • This also reveals a somewhat right-leaning politics. It's true enough.
    • Fatally, the term ‘barbarian’ is the password that opens up the archives of the twentieth century.
    • man is a being potentially ‘superior to himself’.
    • Whoever goes in search of humans will find acrobats.
    • This is a key metaphor, and while it is intended to evoke Nietzchean tightrope-walkers it also unfortunately evokes Tom Stoppard's play Jumpers)
    • the spiritual chances which still fascinate us as the higher and highest possibilities of human beings: these include a non-economic definition of wealth, a non-aristocratic definition of the noble, a non-athletic definition of high achievement, a nondominatory definition of ‘above’, a non-ascetic definition of perfection, a non-military definition of bravery and a non-bigoted definition of wisdom and fidelity.
    • I really liked this; it suggests we can have our hierarchy of achivement without it being oppressive, although it doesn't quite say how.
      • An alternate reading: we need to reclaim these virtues from the dead institutions that have laid claim to them. Find and follow their living forms.
    • ‘Alas! The magic of these struggles is such, that he who sees them must also take part in them!’
    • This reminds me a bit of the textual theory of High Weirdness, that some idea systems draw you in and act on you and through you.
    • Cultural anthropologists suggest the appealing term ‘deep play’ for the comprehensively absorbing preoccupations of human beings. From the perspective of a theory of the practising life we would add: the deep plays are those which are moved by the heights.
    • The aesthetic construct, and nothing else, has taught us to expose ourselves to a non-enslaving experience of rank differences. The work of art is even allowed to 'tell' us, those who have run away from form, something, because it quite obviously does not embody the intention to confine us.
    • In the space of aesthetic simulation, which is at once the emergency space for the success and failure of the artistic construct, the powerless superiority of the works can affect observers who otherwise take pains to ensure that they have no lord, old or new, above them.
    • The perfect thing is that which articulates an entire principle of being.
    • Fragments, cripples and hybrids formulate something that cannot be conveyed by the common whole forms and happy integrities; intensity beats standard perfection.
    • He's talking here about the Rilke poem from which the book takes its title
      • the phenomenon of being spoken to from above
      • being itself is understood as having more power to speak and transmit, and more potent authority, than God, the ruling idol of religions.
      • they radiate an art-evangelical energy that can scarcely be found in any other passage from recent language art.
    • This talent is ‘religiosity’, understood as an innate disposition and a talent that can be developed, making it comparable to musicality. One can practise it, just as one practises melodic passages
    • religiosity is congruent with a certain grammatical promiscuity. Where it operates, objects elastically exchange places with subjects.
    • Each place is a point at which Apollo, the god of forms and surfaces, makes a visually intense and haptically palpable compromise with his older opponent Dionysus, the god of urges and currents.
    • It is the absolute imperative – the quintessential metanoetic command.
    • It displays how being and being exemplary converge. Every classical statue was a petrified or bronze-cast eaching permit in ethical matters.
    • Above all: only grant the suspicion that sport is a pastime for the most stupid as much space as it deserves, do not misuse it as a pretext to drift further
    • pity-ethical (as well as pity-political, including self-pity-political) re-stylizations.
    • the three-thousand-year empire of mental exercises, self-trainings, self-elevations and self-lowerings – in short, the universe of metaphysically coded vertical tension
    • What one called the wisdom of the ancients was essentially a tragic holism, a self-integration within the great whole, that could not be achieved without heroism.
    • Nietzsche’s concern to preserve vertical tension after the death of God proves how seriously he took his task as the ‘last metaphysician’, without overlooking the comical aspect of his mission. He had found his great role as a witness to the vertical dimension without God.
    • My trainer is the one who wants me to want – he embodies the voice that can say to me: ‘You must change your life!'
    • Every orthodoxy, whether it draws its validity from religion or from being venerable and ancient, is a system for preventing mutations of the structures that ensure stability. In this sense, the ancientness of the ancients is self-validating.
    • In the 1980s, politically correct Americans found the most up-to-date name for people who often have to look upwards: ‘vertically challenged people’. This turn of phrase cannot be admired enough. It constitutes a terminological creation that outgrew its inventors without their even noticing what they had achieved.
    • one can neither not practise nor not learn to live.
    • you must pay attention to your inner vertical axis and judge how the pull from its upper pole affects you! It is not walking upright that makes humans human; it is rather the incipient awareness of the inner gradient that causes humans to do so.
    • Existence as such is an acrobatic achievement, and no one can say with certainty what training provides the necessary skills to master this discipline. Hence the acrobat no longer knows what exercises keep him from falling – aside from constant vigilance.
    • The shift of focus from asceticism to acrobatics raises a universe of phenomena from the background that effortlessly encompasses the greatest oppositions in the spectrum from wealth of spirit to physical strength. Here charioteers and scholars, wrestlers and church fathers, archers and rhapsodists come together, united by shared experiences on the way to the impossible.
    • Since the nineteenth century, the assembly of an alternative generator for the build-up of high existential tension has been on the agenda.
    • The urge to go further is as inherent in art as the will to transcend reality in religious asceticism: perfection is not enough. Nothing less than the impossible is satisfactory.
    • The self is a storm of repetition sequences beneath the roof of the skull.
    • On EM Cioran
      • Thus his central paradox crystallizes ever more clearly: the position of the man with no position, the role of the protagonist with no role.
      • Cioran is a new type of practising person whose originality and representative nature are evident in the fact that he practises rejecting every goal-directed way of practising. (cf anti-purpose)
      • The procedure Cioran develops for his anti-exercises is based on the elevation of leisure to a practice form for existential revolt.
      • his ethos was that of a man of exercises, an artiste who even made a stunt out of sluggishness, who turned despair into an Apollonian discipline and letting oneself go into an étude almost classical in manner.
    • While the ordinary trainer – as defined above – is the one ‘who wants me to want’, the spiritual trainer acts as the one who does not want me not to want.
    • Would that not mean that the safest method of exposing all ‘religions’ is to found one’s own?
    • previously unknown category, the gods of the moment, introduced itself to the modern audience – gods that require no proof because they only exist for the duration of their manifestation and are not believed in, but experienced.
    • if the age belongs to the competitive economy, then competitive sport is the zeitgeist itself.
    • I would like to honour the inventor of Dianetics as one of the greatest enlighteners of the twentieth century, as he decisively increased our knowledge about the nature of religion, even if largely involuntarily.
    • According to the great charlatans, the art of arts has always been to distil the one essence, the panacea, the universal agent, regardless of whether this is carried out in physical or moral flasks.
    • the techno-gnostic turn in Western psychology.
    • The philosophy of cybernetics renders it possible to formulate a general theory of twilights of the gods.
    • before us stands a radically ironic, universally flexible business trainer who will stop at nothing, and demonstrates to his progeny what techniques one requires to survive in the jungle battle of egotisms.
    • This describes humans as the creatures that live in the enclosure of disciplines, involuntary and voluntary ones alike – from this angle, anarchisms and chronic indisciplines too are simply disciplines in alternative enclosures.
    • the self-referential relationships that commit the individual to participating in its own subjectification.
    • Going by everything we know about human forms of life in general and Nietzsche’s view of them in particular, only a figure from the pandemonium of the human is suitable for this role: the artiste, or more precisely the acrobat. The undermining of the human through the radically artificial began long ago with his emergence – could he be the figure for whom great times are now beginning?
    • With Darwin’s optics, nature itself is transformed into a circus in which species work their way upwards to the most incredible performances through a never-ending repetition of the simplest procedures known as variation,
    • There is no species that has not, like Nietzsche’s tightrope walker, made danger its profession in some way.
    • if life itself is already a vibrating mountain of improbabilities,
    • My concern is rather to develop a more ethically competent and empirically adequate alternative to the heavy-handed attribution of all hierarchy effects or gradation phenomena to the matrix of power and subjugation.
    • Finding the good form is a design task that includes a moral-logical exercise. It is only because philosophy itself implies such a task from the outset that it can catch on as a ‘school’; the school as such is itself a secession phenomenon – as much in the case of Plato, the founder of the Academy, as among the Viennese moderns.
    • There is no escape from the games and language games because the law of practice misses nothing, whether it happens deliberately or in ego-remote and non-intentional chains of repetitions.
    • The Stoic and Gnostic movements, with their striving for apathy or a speedy escape to the world above, are representative of the former, and the Platonic and mystical traditions, with their inclination to kill off the flesh or pass over embodied existence, of the latter. That these attractive errors did not become the mainstream is due to the resistance of the pragmatic ethical systems,
    • Now it was anonymous and pre-personal agencies that gained the rank of a repressive sovereign. This constellation spawned all the turns and innovations that characterize Bourdieu’s variety of ‘critical theory’ – and, as German readers know, ‘critical theory’ is a pseudonym for a Marxism abandoned by a faith in the possibility of revolution.
    • Each human transforms themselves into a small state for whose inhabitants they must find the right constitution. No one expressed the recession imperative, which calls upon the living to govern their own lives, as clearly as Marcus Aurelius:
      • From now on keep in mind the retreat into this little territory within yourself. Avoid spasms and tensions above all.18
    • This pinpoints the origin of all imperatives of self-collection, without which the subjectivity of advanced civilization, in so far as it is a product of concentration, could never have assumed its familiar manifestations. At the same time, it is in the nature of things that the micropolis which I am will have to make do with an interim government for a long time.
    • Even more importantly than the indifference of the stomach, the aim of Stoic practice is the indifference of the eyes to random sights, of the ears to random sounds and of the spirit to random notions – that extends, as Marcus Aurelius notes in his cautionary aphorisms To Himself, to a fundamental refusal to be surprised by anything. How ridiculous and how much of a stranger in the universe is he who is surprised at anything which happens in his life. In this maxim, cold-blooded as it was intended to sound, we see a hint of the Stoic’s anthropotechnic trick: in his deliberate equation of surprises and injuries, his concern is to immunize himself against the former and simultaneously acquire the necessary level of resistance to the latter.
    • The over-discussed question of the subject is reduced to this compact formulation: a subject is someone who is active as the carrier of a sequence of exercises
    • Whoever is able to feel self-contempt has already mastered the decisive aspect.
    • the distinguishing criterion (of a class-based society), admittedly, no longer consists in the power of an armed lord over his unarmed servant; it lies rather in the self-arming of the practising individuals against the inertias within themselves – through logic, gymnastics, music and art in general.
    • Changing one's life now means breeding, through inner activations, a practice subject that will eventually be superior to its life of passions, habitus, and notions. This means that anyone who takes part in programme for de-passivizing themselves, and crosses from the side of the merely formed to that of the forming, becomes a subject.
    • Acrobatic existence de-trivializes life by placing repetition in the service of the unrepeatable.
    • As soon as one understands that the subject itself is nothing other than the carrier of its own exercise sequences – on the passive side an aggregate of individuated habitus effects, and on the active a centre of competencies that plays on the keyboard of callable dispositions – one can join Nietzsche in calmly admitting what was unspeakable for millennia: egotism is often merely the despicable pseudonym of the best human possibilities.
    • On Foucault
      • Thus he offered anarcho-criticistic kitsch – or, to tell the truth, the laziness that likes to think of itself as a subversive power – a final refuge.
      • He had realized...talk of transgression and subversionism are but dreamy and sluggish pursuits that conceal with difficulty a lack of form.
      • He had long since understood: whoever speaks of subversion and effuses about becoming belongs in the beginners’ class.
      • Foucault had grasped that ‘subversion’, ‘stupidity’ and ‘unfitness’ are three words for the same thing.
    • On Bordieu
      • The habitus, then, is somatized class consciousness. It clings to us like a dialect that never disappears, one that not even Henry Higgins would be able to drive out of Miss Doolittle.
      • As Bourdieu, like any member of a non-utopian left, secretly knows all too well that the ‘classless society’ cannot exist for a number of convincing reasons, critique at the base camp is limited to keeping up the appearance of critique
    • On revolution
      • One could say that in October 1846, the human right to unconsciousness was established – the right of not-having-to-be-present in certain extreme states of one’s own psychophysical existence.
      • Only dead souls accept the principle of gradual progress. Whoever is still morally alive listens to the voices testifying here and now to the intolerability of the prevailing conditions.
      • communist and anarchist radicality opened a new chapter. It deals with the breakthrough of the metanoetic imperative into the political dimension.
      • The great change, then, can only be brought about by a categorical renunciation of the shaping principle of the old world: a decisive rejection of mankind’s division into the privileged and the non-privileged, the haves and the have-nots, the knowing and the unknowing, the rulers and the ruled.
      • were meant to be subject only to their own interpretations. No one who was not themselves at the forefront of the revolution was entitled to a judgement about the means it should choose. It alone could know how much killing was necessary for its success; it alone could decide how much terror would guarantee the triumph of its principles.
      • What was once transcendent morality becomes part of a circuit: the eternally unchanging group of asceticisms is replaced by a cybernetic optimization system.
      • the Russian Revolution was not a political event but an anthropotechnic movement in a socio-political guise, based on the total externalization of the absolute imperative.
      • Only in contrast to the laconic thesis of the last German realpolitiker can one understand what happened in Russia in the wake of the October Revolution: it created a platform for politics as the art of the impossible.
    • Rorty was, next to Hans Jonas, the only thinker of the last half-century from whom one could learn why a philosopher with an understanding of the times must have the courage to strive for simplicity.
    • When it comes to exhibiting its lack of concern for external references, the art system has even surpassed the financial one.
    • Just as Proudhon declared, ‘Whoever says “God” seeks to deceive’, we can conclude from Heidegger: ‘Whoever says “I” seeks to deceive themselves.’