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Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ernst Cassirer was the most prominent, and the last, Neo-Kantian philosopher of the twentieth century. His major philosophical contribution was the transformation of his teacher Hermann Cohen’s mathematical-logical adaptation of Kant’s transcendental idealism into a comprehensive philosophy of symbolic forms intended to address all aspects of human cultural life and creativity. In doing so, Cassirer paid equal attention to both sides of the traditional Neo-Kantian division between the Geisteswissenschaften and Naturwissenschaften, that is, between the social sciences and the natural sciences. This is expressed most systematically in for miner his masterwork, the multi-volume Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (1923-9). Essay On The Poem Sympathy. Here Cassirer marshaled the widest learning of resume for miner, human cultural expression—in myth, religion, language, philosophy, history, art, and science—for the sake of completing and correcting Kant’s transcendental program. The human being, for Cassirer, is not simply the rational animal, but the animal whose experience with and reaction to fall roman empire essays, the world is governed by symbolic relations. Cassirer was a quintessential humanistic liberal, believing freedom of rational expression to resume for miner, be coextensive with liberation. Cassirer was also the twentieth century’s greatest embodiment of the Enlightenment ideal of comprehensive learning, having written widely-acclaimed histories of the ideas of science, historiography, mathematics, mythology, political theory, and philosophy. Thesis Questionnaire. Though cordial with both Moritz Schlick and resume for miner Martin Heidegger, Cassirer’s popularity was eclipsed by the simultaneous rise of logical positivism in the English-speaking world and bunking of phenomenology on the European continent. His professional career was the victim, too, of the political events surrounding the ascendency of Nazism in German academies.
Ernst Cassirer was born in 1874, the son of the established Jewish merchant Eduard Cassirer, in the former German city of Breslau (modern day Wroclaw, Poland). He matriculated at the University of Berlin in 1892. His father intended that he study law, but Cassirer’s interest in literature and philosophy prevented him from doing so. Sampling various courses at the universities at Leipzig, Munich, and for miner Heidelberg, Cassirer was first exposed to the Neo-Kantian philosophy by the social theorist Georg Simmel in Berlin. In 1896, Cassirer began his doctoral studies under Herman Cohen at the University of Marburg. Cassirer’s interests at Marburg ran, as they would always, toward framing Neo-Kantian thought in the wider contexts of historical thinking.
These interests culminated in his dissertation, Descartes: Kritik der Matematischen und Naturwissenschaftlichen Erkentniss (1899). Three years later, Cassirer published a similarly historical book on Leibniz’ System in seinen wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen (1902). Cassirer was also the editor of Leibniz’ Philosophische Werke (1906). His focus on the development of modern idealist epistemology and its foundational importance for the history of the various natural sciences and mathematics reached its apex in Cassirer’s three-volume Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie und Wissenschaft der neuren Zeit (1906-1920), for which he was awarded the Kuno Fischer Medal by the Heidelberg Academy. The first volume, Cassirer’s Habilitationschrift at bunking school essay the University of Berlin (1906), examines the development of epistemology from the Renaissance through Descartes; the second (1907) continues from modern empiricism through Kant; the third (1920) deals with the development of epistemology after Kant, especially the division between Hegelians and resume for miner Neo-Kantians up to the mid-twentieth century; and the fourth volume of Das Erkenntnisproblem on essay improvement process production, contemporary epistemology and science was written in resume for miner exile in 1940, but only published after the end of the war in fall empire essays 1946. Although his quality as a scholar of ideas was unquestioned, anti-Jewish sentiment in German universities made finding suitable employment difficult for Cassirer. Only through the resume, personal intervention of Wilhelm Dilthey was Cassirer given a Privatdozent position at the University of Berlin in 1906. His writing there was prolific and continued the Neo-Kantian preoccupation with the ghost writer, intersections among epistemology, mathematics, and natural science. Cassirer’s work on, and with, Einstein exemplifies the for miner, quality of his contributions to the philosophy of science: Der Substanzbegriff und der Funktionsbegriff (1910), and research Zur Einstein’schen Relativitatstheoretische Betrachtung (1921). These works also mark Cassirer’s conviction that an resume historian of ideas could make a major contribution to the most contemporary problems in every field. After the First World War, and in the more tolerant Weimar Republic, Cassirer was invited to a chair at the new University of thesis, Hamburg in for miner 1919.
There, Cassirer came into the cultural circle of Erwin Panofsky and the Warburg Library of the Cultural Sciences. Immediately Cassirer was absorbed into the vast cultural-anthropological data collected by the Library, affecting the widest expansion of Neo-Kantian ideas into the previously uncharted philosophical territories of improvement production, myth, the evolution of language, zoology, primitive cultures, fine art, and music. The acquaintance with the Warburg circle transformed Cassirer from a student of the for miner, Marburg School’s analysis of the empire, transcendental conditions of thinking into a philosopher of culture whose inquisitiveness touched nearly all areas of human cultural life. This intersection of Marburg and Warburg was indeed the necessary background of Cassirer’s masterwork, the four-volume Philosophie der symbolischen Formen (1923-1929). In addition to his programmatic work, Cassirer was a major contributor to the history of ideas and the history of science. Resume For Miner. In conscious contrast with Hegelian accounts of history, Cassirer does not begin with the assumption of paper railroad, a theory of dialectical progress that would imply the inferiority of earlier stages of historical developments. Resume For Miner. By starting instead with the authors, cultural products, and historical events themselves, Cassirer instead finds characteristic frames of mind that are defined by the kinds of philosophical questions and responses that frame them, which are in turn constituted by characteristic forms of rationality.
Among his works at this time, which influenced a generation of historians of essay improvement process, ideas from Arthur Lovejoy to Peter Gay are Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance (1927); Die Platonische Renaisance in England und die Schule von Cambridge (1932); Philosophie der Aufklarung (1932); Das Problem Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1932); and Descartes: Lehre, Personlichkeit, Wirkung (1939). Cassirer’s philosophy of resume for miner, science had a similar influence on the historical analyses of Alexander Koyre and, through him, Thomas Kuhn. In 1929, Cassirer was chosen Rektor of the University of Hamburg, making him the first Jewish person to hold that position in Germany. However, even as Cassirer’s star was rising, the situation for on the poem sympathy, Jewish academics was deteriorating. With Hitler’s election as Chancellor came the ban on Jews holding academic positions. Resume For Miner. Cassirer saw the writing on the wall and emigrated with his family in 1933.
He spent two years at Oxford and paper underground then six at Goteborg, where he wrote Determinismus und Indeterminismus in der modernen Physik (1936), Descartes: Lehre, Personlichkeit, Wirkung (1939), and Zur Logik der Kulturwissenschaften (1942). In 1931, he wrote the first comprehensive study of the Swedish legal theorist and proto-Analytic philosopher, Axel Hagerstrom. In 1941, Cassirer boarded the resume, last ship the Germans permitted to sail from Sweden to the United States, where he would hold positions at Yale for two years and essay production then at Columbia for one. His final books, written in resume for miner English, were the research underground railroad, career-synopsis, An Essay on Man (1944), and his first philosophical foray into contemporary politics, The Myth of the for miner, State (1946), published posthumously. Cassirer’s death in New York City on April 13, 1945, preceded that of Hitler and the surrender of Germany by mere weeks. “The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms is essay, not concerned exclusively or even primarily with the purely scientific, exact conceiving of the world; it is concerned with all the forms assumed by man’s understanding of the world” ( Philosophy of Symbolic Forms , vol. III, 13). For Cassirer, Neo-Kantianism was less about for miner, doctrinal allegiance than it was about a common commitment to explore the cognitive structures that underlie the variety of essay on the poem sympathy, human experience. After the death of for miner, Cohen, Cassirer became increasingly interested in value and culture.
Inspired by the Warburg Library, Cassirer cast his net into an ocean of cultural expression, trying to bunking school, find the common thread that united the manifold of cultural forms, that is, to move from the resume, critique of essay improvement process production, reason to the critique of culture. As to what precisely symbolic forms are, Cassirer offers perhaps his clearest definition in an early lecture at the Warburg Library (1921): By ‘symbolic form’ I mean that energy of the spirit through which a mental meaning-content is attached to a sensual sign and inwardly dedicated to this sign. In this sense language, the for miner, mythical-religious world, and the arts each present us with a particular symbolic form. For in research paper underground railroad them all we see the mark of the basic phenomenon, that our consciousness is not satisfied to simply receive impressions from the outside, but rather that it permeates each impression with a free activity of expression. In what we call the objective reality of things we are thus confronted with a world of self-created signs and images. (“Der Begriff der Symbolischen Form im Aufbau der Geisteswissenschaften”) An illustration Cassirer uses is that of the curved line on a flat plane. To the resume, geometer, the line means a quantitative relation between the of the roman empire, two dimensions of the plane; to the physicist, the for miner, line perhaps means a relation of energy to mass; and to the artist, the line means a relation between light and darkness, shape and contour.
More than simply a reflection of different practical interests, Cassirer believes each of these brings different mental energies to bunking, bear in turning the visual sensation of the line into a distinct human experience. Resume For Miner. No one of these ways of essay, experiencing is the true one; though they each have their distinctive pragmatic uses within their individual fields. The task of the philosopher is to understand the for miner, internal directedness of each of these mental energies independently and in relation to the others as the fall of the roman essays, sum total of human mental expression, which is to say, culture. The first two forms Cassirer discusses, in the first two volumes respectively, are language and myth. The third volume of the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms concerns contemporary advances in epistemology and natural science: “We shall show how the stratum of conceptual, discursive knowledge is grounded in resume for miner those other strata of spiritual life which our analysis of language and myth has laid bare; and with constant reference to this substructure we shall attempt to essay improvement process production, determine the particularity, organization, and architectonics of the superstructure – that is, of science” ( Philosophy of Symbolic Forms , vol. III, xiii). Cassirer works historically, tracing the problem of philosophical knowledge through the Ancient Greeks up through the Neo-Kantian tradition. The seemingly endless battle between intuition and conceptualization has been contended in various forms between the resume for miner, originators of myths and the earliest theorists of number, between the Milesians and Eleatics, between the empiricists and rationalists, and again right up to Ernst Mach and Max Planck.
Cassirer’s position here is bunking, conciliatory: both sides have and will continue to contribute their perspective on the eternal questions of philosophy insofar as both recognize their efforts as springing from the human’s multifaceted and spontaneous creativity—as symbol-forming rather than designating endeavors that in their dialectics, each with the other side, construct more elaborate and yet universal ways to navigate our world: Physics gains this unity and for miner extension by advancing toward ever more universal symbols. But in roman empire essays this process it cannot jump over resume for miner, its own shadow. It can and must strive to replace particular concepts and research paper railroad signs with absolutely universal ones. But it can never dispense with the function of concepts and resume signs as such: this would demand an intellectual representation of the world without the basic instruments of poem, representation. For Miner. ( Philosophy of Symbolic Forms , vol. III, 479) The fourth volume, The Metaphysics of Symbolic Forms , was published posthumously. Ghost Writer. Along with other papers left at the time of for miner, his death, the German original is essay, now found in the first volume of Cassirer’s Nachgelassene Manuskripte und Texte , edited by John Michael Krois and Oswald Schwemmer in 1995. The English volume, assembled and edited by resume, Donald Philip Verene and John Michael Krois in 1996, contains two texts from different periods in Cassirer’s writings.
The first, from 1928, deals with human nature rather than metaphysics proper. Paper Railroad. In agreement with Heidegger, curiously, Cassirer seeks to replace traditional metaphysics with a fundamental study of human nature. Much of the thematic discussion of this part receives a refined and more complete expression in resume for miner Cassirer’s 1944 Essay on Man . What is of novel interest here concerns his discussion of then contemporary philosophical anthropologists like Dilthey, Bergson, and Simmel and production also the Lebensphilosophen , Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, who otherwise receive short shrift in his work. His critical remarks of these latter thinkers involve their treatment of life as a new sort of metaphysics, one marred, however, by resume for miner, the sorts of dogmatism of pre-Kantian metaphysics. The second text in Verene and Krois’s assembled volume comes from 1940, well after the project had been otherwise finished, and its theme is what Cassirer terms “basis phenomena”: phenomena so fundamental that they cannot be derived from anything else. The main basis phenomena concerns how the tripartite structure of the self’s personal relation to the environment is mirrored in thesis multiple choice questionnaire a tripartite social structure of the “I,” the resume for miner, “you,” and that which binds society: “work.” Not to be confused with the Marxist conception of essay improvement, work, for Cassirer work is anything made or effected, any subjective operation on the objective world. The initial and most fundamental production of work, for Cassirer, is culture—the sphere in which the “I” and “you” come together in resume for miner active life. Several objections to Cassirer’s masterwork have been raised.
First, the precise identity and number of forms is ambiguous over Cassirer’s corpus. Paper. In the lecture from 1921, Cassirer names language, myth-religion, and art as forms, but that number cannot be considered exhaustive. Even in for miner his summatory Essay on Man , consecutive pages maintain different lists: “myth, language, art, religion, history, science” (222) and then “language, myth, art, religion, science” (223); elsewhere science is fall of the essays, omitted (63); mathematics is sometimes added; and resume for miner religion is sometimes considered part of mythic thinking. The first two of the four volumes of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms —on language and choice questionnaire myth respectively—would seem to indicate that each volume would treat a specific form. But the latter two volumes break the trend to deal with a host of different forms. Moreover, it is ambiguous how precisely those forms are related. For example, myth is for miner, sometimes treated as a primitive form of language and on the poem sympathy sometimes non-developmentally as an resume equal correlate. Arithmetic and geometry are the logic that undergirds the scientific symbolic form, but in no way do they undergird primitive forms of science that have been superseded. Whether the forms are themselves developmental or whether development takes place by the instantiation of on the sympathy, a new form is also left vague. For example, Cassirer indicates that the move from Euclidean to non-Euclidean geometry involves not just progress but an entirely new system of symbolization.
However, myth does not seem to develop itself into resume anything else other than into something wholly different, that is, representational language. There is, however, a certain necessity to Cassirer’s imprecision on these points. Taken together, the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms is a grand narrative that exposits how various human experiences evolve out of an originally animalistic and primitive articulation of expressive signs into the complicated and underground railroad more abstract forms of culture in the twenty-first century. As “energies of the spirit” they cannot be affixed with the resume for miner, kind of rigid architectonic featured in Kant’s transcendental deduction of purely logical forms. Though spontaneous acts of mental energy, symbolic forms are both developmental and pragmatic insofar as they adapt over time to changing environments in response to real human needs, something that resists an overly rigid structuralism. Those responses feature a loose sort of internal-logic, but one characterized according to contingent cultural interactions with the world. Essay Production. Therefore, one ought not to expect Cassirer to offer the same logical precision that comes with the typical Neo-Kantian discernment of for miner, mental forms insofar as logic is only one form among many cultural relations with life. Cassirer’s late Essay on Man (1944) expresses neatly his lifelong attempt to combine his Neo-Kantian view of the actively-constituting subject with his Warburgian appreciation for the diversity of human culture. Underground. Here, as ever, Cassirer begins with the history of views up into his present time, culminating in the presentation of a definitive scientific thesis that he would then proceed to refute.
Johannes von Uexkull’s Umwelt und Innenwelt der Tiere (1909) argued that evolutionary biology has taken too far the view that animal parts and functions develop as a response to resume for miner, environmental factors. In its place Uexkull offers the “functional circle” of animal activity, which identifies the interaction of distinct receptor and effector systems. Animals are not simply reacting to the environment as it presents itself in sensory stimuli. They adapt themselves, consciously and ghost writer unconsciously, to their environments, sometimes with clear signs of intelligence and resume for miner insight. Essay Writer. Different animals use diverse and resume sometimes highly complex systems of signals to better respond and manipulate their environments to their advantage.
Dogs, for example, are adroit at reading signals in essay ghost body language, vocal tones, and for miner even hormone changes while being remarkably effective in expressing a complex range of immediate inner states in thesis multiple questionnaire terms of the resume for miner, vocalized pitch of their whimpers, grunts, or barks, as well as the bunking school essay, bends of their tails, or the posture of their spines. In Pavlov’s famous experiments, dogs were conditioned to resume for miner, react both to the immediate signals of meat—its visual appearance and smell—and also to mediate signals, like a ringing bell, to the same effect. Cassirer thinks this theory makes good sense of the of the roman empire, animal world as a corrective to a too-simple version of evolution, but doubts this can be applied to humans. Over and above the signals received and expressed by resume, animals, human beings evolved to use symbols to make their world meaningful. The same ringing of the bell would not be considered by man a physical signal so much as a symbol whose meaning transcends its real, concrete stimulation. For man, a bell does not indicate simply that food is coming, but induces him to wonder why that bell might indicate food, or perhaps whether an questionnaire exam is over, or the fulfillment of a sacrament, or that someone is on the telephone. None of those symbols would lead necessarily to a response in resume for miner the way the conditioned dog salivates at the bell. They instead prompt a range of freely creative responses in essay ghost writer human knowers within distinct spheres of meaning: Symbols—in the proper sense of this term—cannot be reduced to mere signals. For Miner. Signals and fall empire symbols belong to two different universes of discourse: a signal is a part of the physical world of being; a symbol is a part of the human world of meaning. Signals are ‘operators’; symbols are ‘designators’.
Signals, even when understood and used as such, have nevertheless a sort of physical or substantial being; symbols have only a functional value. ( Essay on Man 32) Between the straightforward reception of physical stimuli and the expression of an inner world lies, for Cassirer, the symbolic system: “This new acquisition transforms the whole of resume, human life. Research Paper Underground Railroad. As compared with the other animals man lives not merely in resume a broader reality; he lives, so to speak, in a new dimension of reality” ( Essay on Man 24). That dimension is distinctively Kantian: the a priori forms of space and time. Animals have little trouble working in three-dimensional space; their optical, tactile, acoustic, and kinesthetic apprehension of spatial distances functions at least as well as it does in humans. But only to the human is the symbol of pure geometrical space meaningful, a universal, non-perceptual, theoretical space that persists without immediate relationship to his or her own interaction with the world: “Geometrical space abstracts from all the variety and heterogeneity imposed upon us by the disparate nature of our senses.
Here we have a homogenous, a universal space” ( Essay on paper underground railroad, Man 45). In terms of time, too, there can be no doubt that higher animals remember past sensations, or that memory affects the manner in which they respond when similar sensations are presented. But in the human person the resume for miner, past is not simply repeated in the present, but transformed creatively and fall roman essays constructively in ways that reflect values, regrets, hopes, and so forth, It is not enough to pick up isolated data of our past experience; we must really re-collect them, we must organize and resume synthesize them, and assemble them into essay a focus of thought. It is this kind of for miner, recollection which gives us the characteristic human shape of memory, and distinguishes it from all the other phenomena in animal or organic life. ( Essay on school, Man 51) As animals recall pasts and live within sensory space, human beings construct histories and geometries. Both history and resume for miner geometry, then, are symbolic engagements that render the world meaningful in an irreducibly human fashion. This symbolic dimension of the person carries him or her above the underground railroad, effector-receptor world of environmental facts and for miner subjective responses. He or she lives instead in a world of possibilities, imaginations, fantasy, and dreams.
However, just as there is a kind of logic to the language of process, contrary-to-fact conditionals or to the rules of poetic rhythym, so too is resume, there a natural directedness expressed in how human beings construct a world of meaning out of those raw effections and receptions. That directedness cannot, however, be restricted to rational intentionality, though reason is indeed an essential component. In distinction from the Neo-Kantian theories of experience and representation, Cassirer thinks there is a wider network of forms that enable a far richer engagement between subject and object than reason could produce: “Hence, instead of defining man as an animal rationale , we should define him as an animal symbolicum ” ( Essay on Man 26). With his definition of man as the symbolic animal, Cassirer is in position to reenvision the task of philosophy. School Essay. Philosophy is much more than the analysis and resume for miner eventual resolution of a set of essay ghost, linguistic problems, as Wittgenstein would have it, nor is it restricted, as it was for many Neo-Kantians, to transcendentally deducing the logical forms that would ground the natural sciences. Philosophy’s “starting point and its working hypothesis are embodied in the conviction that the varied and seemingly dispersed rays may be gathered together and brought into a common focus ( Essay on Man 222). The functions of the human person are not merely aggregrate, loosely-connected expressions and factual conditions. Philosophy seeks to resume for miner, understand the connections that unite those expressions and conditions as an organic whole.
Max Muller was the leading theorist of myth in Cassirer’s day. In the face of Anglophone linguistic analysis, Muller held myth to be the necessary means by which earlier people communicate, one which left a number of traces within more-developed contemporary languages. What is needed for the proper study of multiple, myth, beyond this appreciation of its utility, is a step by step un-riddling of the mythical objects in non-mythical concepts so as to rationally articulate what a myth really means. For Miner. Sigmund Freud, of course, also considered myth to be a sort of unconscious expression, one that stands as a primitive version of the thesis questionnaire, naturally-occuring expression of subconscious drives. Cassirer considers myth in terms of the Neo-Kantian reflex by first examining the conditions for thinking and then analyzing the objects which are thought. In his Sprache und Mythos (1925), which is a sort of condensed summary of the first two volumes of Philosophy of Symbolic Forms , Cassirer comes to resume, criticize Muller, more so than Freud, for an unreflective realism about the objects of myth. To say that objects of any sort are what they are independent of essay, their representation is to misunderstand the last century of transcendental epistemology. Resume. Accordingly, to treat myth as a false representation of those objects, one waiting to be “corrected” by a properly rational representation, is to ignore the wider range of fall of the roman, human intellectual power. Naturalizing myths, as Muller and his followers sought to do, does not dissolve an object’s mythical mask so much as transplants it into the foreign soil of an for miner alternative symbolic form: From this point of view all artistic creation becomes a mere imitation, which must always fall short of the ghost writer, original.
Not only resume for miner, simple imitation of thesis multiple choice questionnaire, a sensibly presented model, but also what is known as idealization, manner, or style, must finally succumb to this verdict; for measured by the naked ‘truth’ of the object to be depicted, idealization is resume, nothing but subjective misconception and falsification. And it seems that all other processes of mental gestation involve the same sort of outrageous distortion, the same departure from essay writer, objective reality and the immediate data of resume for miner, experience. Bunking Essay. ( Language and Myth , trans. Langer , 6) Muller’s view of myth is a symptom of a wider problem. For if myth is akin to art or language in falsifying the world as it really is, then language is limited to merely expressing itself without any claim to truth either: “From this point it is but a single step to resume, the conclusion which the modern skeptical critics of language have drawn: the complete dissolution of essay on the sympathy, any alleged truth content of language, and the realization that this content is nothing but a sort of phantasmagoria of the spirit” ( Language and resume Myth , trans. Langer , 7). Cassirer rejects such fictionalism in underground myth and language both as an appeal to psychologistic measures of truth that fail to see a better alternative in the philosophy of symbolic forms.
For Cassirer, myth (and language, discussed below) does reflect reality: the reality of the subject. Accordingly, the study of myth must focus on resume for miner, the mental processes that create myth instead of the presupposed ‘real’ objects of myth: Instead of roman essays, measuring the content, meaning, and truth of intellectual forms by something extraneous which is resume for miner, supposed to be reproduced in them, we must find in improvement process production these forms themselves the measure and criterion for their truth and intrinsic meaning. For Miner. Instead of bunking school essay, taking them as mere copies of something else, we must see in each of these spiritual forms a spontaneous law of generation; and original way and resume tendency of expression which is essay production, more than a mere record of something initially given in fixed categories of real existence. ( Language and Myth , trans. Langer , 8) The mythic symbol creates its own “world” of meaning distinct from that created by language, mathematics, or science. The question is resume for miner, no longer whether mythic symbols, or any of these other symbolic forms, correspond to essay sympathy, reality since it is distinct from that mode of representation, but instead it is resume, a question on how myths relate to those other forms as limitations and supplementations. No matter how heterogeneous and essay writer variegated are the myths that come down to us, they move along definite avenues of feeling and creative thought. An example Cassirer uses to illustrate his understanding of myth-making is the Avesta myth of Mithra. Attempts to identify Mithra as the sun-god, and thereby analogize it to the sun-god of the resume, Egyptians, Greeks, and other early people, are misguided insofar as they stem from the attempt to explain away the object of mythical thinking in naturalistic rational terms.
Cassirer points out that the analogy doesn’t hold for multiple, strictly interpretive reasons: Mithra is said to resume, appear on mountain tops before dawn and is said to illuminate the earth at night as well, and cannot be the mythical analog of the sun. Mithra is not a thing to be naturalized, but evidence of an alternate spiritual energy that fashions symbolic responses to experiential confusions. What Mithra specifically reflects is a mode of thinking as it struggles to make sense of choice, how the qualities of light and darkness result from a single essential unity: the cosmos. As historical epochs provide new and self-enclosed worlds of experience, so too does myth evolve in conjunction with the needs of the age as an expression of overlapping but quite distinct patterns of mental life. Myths are hardly just wild stories with a particular pragmatic lesson.
There is a specific mode of perception that imbues mythic thinking with its power to transcend experience. Similar to resume for miner, Giambattista Vico’s vision of historical epochs, Cassirer views the development of culture out of myth as a narrative of progressively more abstract systems of representation that serve as the foundation for human culture. Bunking School Essay. Like Vico, too, there is continuity between the most elevated systems of theoretical expression of modern day—namely, religion, philosophy, and above all natural science—and a more primitive mind’s reliance upon myth and magic. However, Cassirer shares more with Enlightenment optimism than with Vico’s pessimistic conviction about the progressive degeneracy of resume for miner, scientific abstraction. The first volume of The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923), on essay poem, language, is guided by the search for epistemological reasons sufficient to explain the origin and development of human speech. Language is neither a nominal nor arbitrary designation of for miner, objects, nor, however, does language hold any immediate or essential connection to the object of its designation. The use of a word to designate an object is already caught in a web of intersubjectively-determined meanings which of themselves contain much more than the simple reference.
Words are meaningful within experience, and that experience lies, as it did for Kant, as a sort of middle-ground between the pure reception of objects and the autonomous activity of reason to generate forms within which content could be meaningful. Choice. In contrast to Kant and the Neo-Kantians, however, those forms cannot be presumed to be identical among all rational agents over the spans of history. Animal language is essentially a language of for miner, emotion, expressions of desires and aversions in response to environmental factors. Similarly the earliest words uttered by our primitive ancestors were signs to deal with objects, every bit a tool alongside other tools to deal with the primitive’s sensed reality. As the human mind evolved to add spatio-temporal intuitions to mere sensation, a representational function overtook the school essay, mind’s merely expressive operations. The primitive vocalized report of received sensations became representations of enduring objects within fixed spatial points: “The difference between propositional language and emotional language is the real landmark between the human and the animal world. All the theories and observations concerning animal language are wide of the mark if they fail to recognize that fundamental difference” ( Essay on Man 30). Resume For Miner. The features of those objects were further abstracted such that from commonalities there emerged a host of types, kinds, and multiple choice eventually universals, whose meaning allowed for resume, the emergence of mathematics, science, and philosophy. The animal’s emotive signals operate as a practical imagination in a world of immediate experience. Proper human propositional speech, on the other hand, is already imbued at even its most basic levels with theoretical structures that involve quintessentially spatio-temporal forms linking subjects and their objects: “Language has a new task wherever such relationships are signified linguistically, where ‘here’ is distinguished from ‘there,’ where the location of the ghost writer, speaker is distinguished from the one spoken to, or where the greater nearness or distance is rendered by various indicative particles” (“The Problem of the Symbol and its Place in the System of resume, Philosophy” in Luft , 259). The application of on the sympathy, dimensionality, and temporality as well, transforms the resume for miner, subjective sensation into an objective representation.
Prepositions, participles, subjunctives, conditionals, and the rest, all involve either temporal or spatial prescriptions, and none of them seems to be a feature of animal space. The older animalistic content is not entirely discarded as the same basic desires and emotions are expressed. The means of that expression, however, are formally of an entirely different character that binds the subject to the object in ways supposed to be binding for other rational agents. Although the interjection “ouch!” expresses pain well enough, and although animals have variously similar yelps and cries, it lacks the representational form of the proposition “I (this one, here and now) am (presently) in pain..” In the on the poem sympathy, uniquely human sphere of ethics, too, the reliance on resume for miner, subjunctive and conditional verbal forms—“I ought not to have done that,” for example—always carries language beyond simple evocations of pleasures and aversions into the symbolic realm of meaningfulness. The Neo-Kantian position on language allows Cassirer to address two contemporary anomalies in linguistic science. Of The. The first is the famous case of resume for miner, Helen Keller, the unfortunate deafblind girl from Alabama, who, with the help of thesis, her teacher Anne Sullivan, went on to become a prolific author and social activist. Sullivan had taught Helen signs by using a series of taps on her hand to correspond to particular sense impressions. Resume For Miner. Beyond her disabled sensory capacities, Cassirer argued, Helen was unable to cognize in the characteristically human way. One day at a water pump, Sullivan tapped “water” and Helen recognized the disjunction between the bunking essay, various sensations of resume for miner, water (varying temperatures, viscocities, and degrees of pressure) and the “thing” which is universally referred to as such. That moment opened up for Helen an entire world of names, not as mere expressive signals covering various sensations but as intersubjectively valid objective symbols. This discovery marked her entry into a new, symbolic mode of thinking: “The child had to make a new and much more significant discovery.
She had to empire essays, understand that everything has a name —that the symbolic function is not restricted to particular cases but is a principle of universal applicability which encompasses the whole field of human thought” ( Essay on Man 34f). The second case is the pathology of aphasia. Similar to Helen Keller, what had long been thought a deficiency of the senses was revealed by Cassirer to be a cognitive failing. In the case of resume, patients with traumatic injuries to certain areas of the brain, particular classes of speech act became impossible. The mechanical operation of producing the words was not the problem, but an thesis questionnaire inability to speak objectively about “unreal” conditions: “A patient who was suffering from a hemiplegia, from a paralysis of the right hand, could not, for instance, utter the words: ‘I can write with my right hand,’ because this was to him the statement of a fact, not of a hypothetical or unreal case” ( Essay on Man 57). These types of for miner, aphasiacs were confined to the data provided by their sense impressions and thesis multiple questionnaire therefore could not make the resume, crucial symbolic move to theoretical possibility. For Cassirer, this was good evidence that language was neither mere emotional expression nor free-floating propositional content that could be analyzed logically only a posteriori . In addition to these cases of abnormal speech pathology, Cassirer’s attention to the evolution of language enabled him to take a much wider view of both the form of utterance and its content than his more famous counterparts among the linguistic analysts. In Carnap’s Logical Syntax of improvement process production, Language , for example, the attempt is made to reduce semantic rules to syntax. The expected outcome was a philosophical grammar, a sound and complete system of words in the sort of logical relation that would be universally valid. For Cassirer, however, “human speech has to fulfill not only a universal logical task but also a social task which depends on the specific social conditions of the speaking community.
Hence we cannot expect a real identity, a one-to-one correspondence between grammatical and logical forms” ( Essay on Man 128). Resume For Miner. Contrary to the early analytical school, language cannot be considered a given thing waiting to be assessed according to independent logical categories, but instead needs to be assessed according to the a priori application of those categories to essay, verbal expressions. Accordingly, the task of the philosopher of language must be refocused to account for the diversity and creativity of linguistic dynamics in order to better encapsulate the human rational agent in the fullest possible range of his or her powers. Cassirer was perhaps the last systematic philosopher to for miner, have both exhaustive knowledge of the historical development of each of the individual sciences as well as thorough familiarity with his day’s most important advancements. Substance and Function (1910) could still serve as a primer for essay, the history of resume, major scientific concepts prior to bunking school, the twenthieth century. The first part examines the concepts of number, space, and a vast array of special problems such as Emil du Bois-Reymond’s “limiting concepts”; Robert Mayer’s methodological advancements in thermo-dynamics; the spatial continuities of atoms in the physics of Roger Boscovich and for miner Gustav Fechner; Galileo’s concept of inertia; Heinrich Hertz’s mechanics; and John Dalton’s law of multiple proportions. Each of these is examined with a view toward the epistemological presuppositions that gave rise to those problems and how each scientist’s innovations represented a novel way of essay, posing problems through an application of spatio-temporal concepts. This historical survey allows Cassirer to offer his own contributions to for miner, these problems along recognizably Neo-Kantian lines in process the second part of Substance and Function . Science cannot be considered a collection of empirical facts. Science discovers no absolute qualities but only qualities in relation to other qualities within a particular field, such as the concept of mass as the sum of resume, relations with respect to external impulses in motion, or energy as the momentary condition of a given physical system. Concrete sensuous impressions are only transformed into empirical objects by the determination of spatial and temporal form.
The properties of objects, in bringing them into meaningful discourse by multiple choice, means of measurement, are thus mathematized as a field of for miner, relations: “The chaos of impressions becomes a system of numbers; but these numbers first gain their denomination, and thus their specific meaning, from the system of concepts which are theoretically established as universal standards of measurement” ( Substance and Function 149). Objects as they stand outside possible experience are not the proper subject matter of science, anymore than they are for mathematics. Proper science examines the logical connections among the spatio-temporal relationships of objects precisely as they are constituted by experience. Abandoning the essay process, particular sensuous properties of objects for their logical relations as members of a system refocuses the scientific inquiry on how the natural world is symbolized by mathematical logic. Science becomes anthropomorphized insofar as whatever content is available to experience will be content that the human being spontaneuosly and resume for miner creatively renders meaningful: “No content of experience can ever appear as something absolutely strange; for even in multiple questionnaire making it a content of our thought, in resume for miner setting it in thesis choice questionnaire spatial and temporal relations with other contents we have thereby impressed it with the seal of our universal concepts of connection, in particular those of mathematical relations” ( Substance and Function 150). However, this in no way reduces science to mere relativism of personal inner projections, as if one way of representing the resume, world were no better than any other. Essay Improvement Production. Though we do not know objects independent of mental representation, scientific understanding functions objectively by fixing the for miner, permanent logical elements and their connections within a uniform manifold of bunking school essay, experience: “The object marks the for miner, logical possession of knowledge, and not a dark beyond forever removed from knowledge” ( Substance and Function 303). Thus, science is school, absolutely tied to resume, empirical reality, by which Cassirer means the sum of logical relations through which humans cognize the world.
Therefore science, too, as much as language or myth, symbolically constitutes the world in its particular idiom: “The symbol possesses its adequate correlate in the connection according to law, that subsists between the individual members, and not in any constitutive part of the perception; yet it is this connection that gradually reveals itself to be the questionnaire, real kernel of the thought of empirical ‘reality’” ( Substance and Function 149). This Neo-Kantian vision of science is not something Cassirer thinks stands to “correct” science as currently practiced. On the resume, contrary, the great modern scientists themselves have assumed precisely the same view, though in thesis choice terms lacking the proper philosophical rigor. For Miner. Newton’s assumption of absolute space and time put science on its first firm foundation, and in paper underground doing so he had to for miner, relinquish a purely sense-certain view of experience. Space and time in classical physics fix natural processes within a geometric schema, and fix mass as a self-identical thing within infinitely different spaces and different times. What Newton failed to realize was that this vision of space and time imputed ideal forms into what he believed was the straightforward observation of real objects. Kant had already shown as much. James Clark Maxwell’s theory of light waves breaks with this system of transcribing observational circumstances with mathematical equations that associate spatial positions with affair-states. Fall. Maxwell’s spatial point simultaneously has two correlate directional quantities: the magnetic and electrical vectors, whose representations in mathematics are readily cognizable but whose observation as such is resume for miner, impossible. The theory of Maxwell was therefore functionally meaningful without requiring a substantial ontology behind it.
The definitive theory of light he discovered was not about a permanent thing situated within space and time but a set of roman, interrelated magnitudes that could be functionally represented as a universal constant. Hermann Ludwig von Helmholtz was among the first natural scientists to properly acknowledge the difference between observational descriptions of reality and resume for miner symbolic theoretical constructions of it. Thesis Questionnaire. As Cassirer quotes Helmholtz: [I]n investigating [phenomena] we must proceed on the supposition that they are comprehensible. Accordingly, the law of sufficient reason is really nothing more than the urge of our intellect to bring all our perceptions under its own control. It is not a law of resume for miner, nature. Our intellect is the faculty of forming general conceptions. It has nothing to do with our sense-perceptions and experiences unless it is bunking, able to form general conceptions or laws. ( Essay on Man 220) The alleged sensory manifold held so dear in naively realist science gave way before Helmholtz’s demonstration that such is an ideally defined totality according to resume, the rule which distinguishes properties on the basis of numerical series. Bunking School Essay. That ideal unit is, for Helmholtz, the “symbol,” which cannot be considered a “copy” of resume, a non-signifying object-in-itself (for how could that be conceived?) but the functional correspondence between two or more conceptual structures. Thus what is discovered by Helmholtzian science are the laws of school essay, interrelation among phenomena, the laws which are the very condition of our experiencing something as an object in the first place.
To Helmholtz’s experimental demonstration, Cassirer is able to add the relational but still universal nature of scientific designation; that is, the resume, crucial differentiation between substance-concepts and function-concepts: For laws are never mere compendia of perceptible facts, in which the individual phenomena are merely placed end to end as on a string. Rather every law, as compared to bunking essay, immediate perception, comprises a […] transition to a new perspective. This can occur only when we replace the concrete data provided by experience with symbolic representations, which on the basis of certain theoretical presuppositions that the for miner, observer accepts as true and valid are thought to correspond to them. ( The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms III, 21) Accordingly, the truth of science does not depend upon fall essays an accurate conceptualization of substances so much as it does on the demonstrating the limits of for miner, conceptual thinking about those substances, that is, their symbolic functions. The scientist cannot attain his end without strict obedience to the facts of nature. But this obedience is not passive submission. The work of all the great natural scientists – of Galileo and Newton, of Maxwell and Helmholtz, of Planck and Einstein—was not mere fact collecting; it was theoretical, and that means constructive, work. This spontaneity and productivity is the fall of the roman, very center of all human activities.
It is man’s highest power and resume it designates at empire the same time the natural boundary of our human world. In language, in religion, in art, in science, man can do no more than to build up his own universe – a symbolic universe that enables him to understand and interpret, to articulate and organize, to synthesize and resume universalize his human experience. ( Essay on Man 221) Cassirer’s essay Zur Einsteinschen Relativitatstheorie (1921) was his last major thematic enterprise before the first volume of The Philosophy of fall, Symbolic Forms . Resume. In it he sees himself following Cohen’s task of updating Kant’s philosophical groundwork for science. Kant had taken for granted that the forms of science in his own day represented scientific thinking as such. His epistemological groundwork accordingly needed to support Newtonian physics. After Kant’s death, science leapt past the limits set by Newton just as mathematics pushed the essay improvement process, limits of Euclidian three-dimensional geometry. Einstein’s theories of relativity effectively dismantled the for miner, authority of both; the thesis multiple choice, fact that they did proved to Cassirer the non-absolute status of scientific symbolization as a doctrine about objects. An elucidation of the epistemological conditions that could allow for for miner, Einstein’s relativity was now necessary. Cassirer replaced Kant’s static formalism with his attention to the varied and alterable features of mathematical science that could accomodate radical new forms of mathematical logic and, by extension, systems of natural science. Pure Euclidean geometry was so influential because it dealt concretely and intuitively with real things as uniform and improvement process production absolute substances. And it still works with most material applications.
When non-Euclidian geometry came to the fore with Gauss, Riemann, and Christoffel, it was considered a mere play of analytical concepts that held some logical curiosity but no applicability. Over time a gradual shift ensued from the widening of the concept of experience to include non-uniform concepts of space. Pure Euclidean space stands, as it now seems, not closer to the demands of empirical and physical knowledge than the non-Euclidean manifolds but rather more removed. For Miner. For precisely because it represents the logically simplest form of spatial construction it is not wholly adequate to the complexity of content and the material determinateness of the empirical. Its [i.e., the Euclidean] fundamental property of homogeneity, its axiom of the equivalence in the principal of all points, now marks it as an abstract space; for, in the concrete and empirical manifold, there never is such uniformity, but rather thorough-going differentiation reigns in it. (“Euclidean and non-Euclidean Geometry,” in Luft , 243) It is thus not the questionnaire, case, as traditionally thought, that the new physical sciences simply adopted a more abstract vision of mathematics as its basis.
Their physics represent a more widely-encompassing symbolic representation that expresses a new mode of experience, one less concerned with the sense impressions of real objects than with the reality of their logical relations. Einstein needed a geometry of curvature that varied according to the relation of mass and energy in for miner order for general relativity to work, but this of itself does not mean Euclidean geometry was or even could be proven wrong by thesis multiple choice, Minkowski space-time. Resume For Miner. In the terminology of symbolic forms, Cassirer thinks Einstein’s relativity has transcended the symbolic forms of natural objects with those of pure mathematical relations. The result is the fracture of non-commensurable ways of analyzing one and the same “substance”: physically, chemically, mathematically, and essay sympathy so forth. Those forms ought not to be reduced to a single “meta” method that levels their differences as merely partial views. Resume. Each ought to be retained as equally valid parts of the total determination of the object. Thus Einstein was right to abandon absolute Newtonian space-time for relative Minkowski space-time. Paper Railroad. But his reason for resume for miner, doing so did not concern the former’s falsity. In place of a single absolutist description, the new relativism embraced an epistemology that featured a wider variety of equally valid modes of thinking about process production, one and for miner the same object.
Objects, in Cassirer’s idiom, are relative to the symbolic form under which they are expressed. The One reality can only be disclosed and defined as the ideal limit of diversely changing theories; but the setting of this limit itself is not arbitrary; it is inescapable, since the continuity of thesis multiple questionnaire, experience is for miner, established only thereby. Research. No particular astronomical system, the Copernican no more than the Ptolemaic…may be taken as an expression of the ‘true’ cosmic order, but only the whole of these systems as they continuously unfold in resume for miner accordance with a certain context. …We do not need the objectivity of absolute things, but we do require the objective determinacy of the bunking essay, way of experience itself. ( Philosophy of Symbolic Forms III, 476) Cassirer’s view of the evolution of science may be compared with Thomas Kuhn’s view insofar as both reject a single consistent progress toward absolute truth. Resume For Miner. Cassirer’s symbolic forms echo in Kuhn’s paradigms as incommensurable frameworks of meaning that stand in discomfitted relationships with one another. But where Kuhn sees the conditions for shifted paradigms in the quasi-sociological language of the community crises brought about by insoluable intra-paradigm problems, Cassirer sees a more epistemological metamorphosis in essay ghost the evolution and expansion of human thinking. Resume For Miner. More than just a professional and social shift away from Pythagoras or Galileo to Einstein or Plank, Cassirer thinks rational agency matures to embrace more variegated, more useful, and more precise symbols. This evolution does not bring the rational agent closer to the truth of objects, but it does bring more useful and exacting means by which to think about those objects. Insofar as science, more so than myth or language, cultivates that progression through its activity, it presents, for Cassirer, the essay, prospect to carry human nature to the very highest cultural achievements possible: “Science is the last step in man’s mental development and it may be regarded as the highest and most characteristic attainment of resume, human culture” ( Essay on Man 207).
Cassirer’s political philosophy has its roots in Renaissance humanism and the classics of essay, Modern thought: Machiavelli, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, and Humboldt. Resume. Ever concerned with a subject’s connection to the wider sphere of cultural life, Cassirer noted that the Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance conceptions of politics were framed within a holistic worldview. In Modern times, a holistic order still obtained, but after Machiavelli, this order is based upon intrapersonal relationships rather than the divine or the natural. These social and political relationships are, like symbolic forms, neither entirely objective nor entirely subjective. They represent the construction of ourselves in the framework of our ideal comprehensive social life. Man’s social consciousness depends upon a double act of identification and discrimination. Ghost Writer. Man cannot find himself, he cannot become aware of his individuality, except through the medium of his social life. For Miner. […] Man, like the bunking essay, animals, submits to the rules of society but, in addition, he has an active share in bringing about, and an active power to resume, change, the forms of essay, social life. ( Essay on resume, Man 223) As it did for Kant, human dignity derives from the capacity of rational agents to pose and constrain themselves by normative laws of their own making. Cassirer stresses against Marx and Heidegger, respectively, that it is neither the material nor ontological conditions that man is born or thrown into that determines political order or social value. Fall Of The Empire Essays. Rather, it is the active processes by which the resume, human person creates laws for paper, themself, social institutions for themself, and norms for themself are paramount in determining the place of the human being in society.
Politics is not simply the study of the relations between social institutions, as Marx and his sociological disciples believed, but of resume for miner, their meaningful construction within the symbolic forms of myth-making, art, poetry, religion, and science. Human culture taken as a whole may be described as the process of man’s progressive self-liberation. Language art, religion, science, are various phases in this process. In all of them man discovers and roman empire essays proves a new power – the power to build up a world of his own, an ‘ideal’ world. Philosophy cannot give up its search for a fundamental unity in this ideal world ( Essay on Man , 228). The opponent in resume Cassirer’s last work, The Myth of the State , is Heidegger and questionnaire the kind of twentieth century totalitarian mythologies of resume for miner, “crisis” by which he and so much of Germany were then entranced. Poem Sympathy. Even if he did stand mostly alone, Cassirer stood firmly against the myth of Aryan supremacy, the myth of the eternal Jew, and the myth of Socialist utopia. He did not oppose the creative acts that gave rise to these myths but the unthinking allegiance they demanded of their acolytes.
In so doing, Cassirer felt Germany, and not just Germany, had abandoned its heritage of classical liberalism, tradition of laws, and its belief in the rational progress of both science and religion for a worldview based in power and struggles for personal gain masking as equality. With obvious reference toward Heidegger and the National Socialists, Cassirer laments: Perhaps the most important and the most alarming feature in this development of modern political thought is the appearance of a new power: the power of mythical thought. The preponderance of mythical thought over rational thought in some of our modern systems is obvious. ( Myth of the State , 3) Cassirer’s focus in Myth of the State is mostly not, however, the contemporary state of European politics. Resume For Miner. In fact, only in the last chapter is the word Nazi mentioned. Underground Railroad. The great majority is caught up instead with history, almost jarringly so given the immediate crisis and Cassirer’s personal place in it. He has far more to say about medieval theories of grace, Plato’s Republic , and Hegel than he does about the resume, rise of Hitler or the War. Back in improvement the First World War, Cassirer’s wife Toni would write in her biography, Mein Leben mit Ernst Cassirer , that despite some limited clerical duties on behalf of Germany, their major wartime concerns were whether there was sufficient electricity to for miner, write and essay ghost whether the for miner, train tickets were first class (Toni Cassirer, 1948, 116-20): “We weren’t politicians, and didn’t even know any politicians” (Ibid., 117). And that aloofness stayed with Cassirer until the end. Charles W. Hendel, who was responsible for Cassirer’s appointment at Yale and who later became the posthumous editor of Myth of the State , illustrates how frustrating Cassirer’s silence on contemporary political matters were: “Won’t you tell us the research underground, meaning of what is for miner, happening today , instead of paper underground railroad, writing about past history, science, and culture?
You have so much knowledge and wisdom—we who are working with you know that so well—but you should give others, too, the benefit of it” ( Myth of the State x). For Miner. In the early twentieth-first century, Edward Skidelsky declaimed Cassirer’s reluctance to school, speak about contemporary politics as a symptom of a greater philosophical shortcoming: “[Cassirer’s] is an enchanting vision. But it is also a fundamentally innocent one. Liberalism may have triumphed in the political sphere, but it was the illiberal philosophy of Heidegger that won the day at Davos and went on to leave the deepest stamp on twentieth-century culture. Who now shares Cassirer’s faith in the humanizing power of art or the liberating power of resume for miner, science? Who now believes that the truth will make us free?” (Skidelsky 2008, 222) The historical event for which Cassirer is best known is the famous conference held in Davos, Switzerland in 1929. Planned as a symposium to bring together French- and German-speaking academics in a spirit of international collaboration, the conference was set in the resort town made famous by on the poem sympathy, Thomas Mann’s epic The Magic Mountain (1924).
Counting nearly 1,300 attendees, more than 900 of who were the resume for miner, town’s residents, the conference featured 56 lectures delivered over the span of three weeks. Among those in attendance were contemporary heavyweights like Fritz Heinemann and Karl Joel, and rising stars like Emmanuel Levinas, Joachim Ritter, Maurice de Gandillac, Ludwig Binswanger, and a young Rudolf Carnap. The centerpiece of the conference was to have been the showdown between the thesis multiple questionnaire, two most important philosophers in Germany: Cassirer and for miner Heidegger. Curiously, there never was a disputation proper, in thesis multiple questionnaire the sense of an official point-by-point debate, in part because neither man was up for it: Cassirer was bed-ridden by resume, illness and Heidegger was less interested in attending lectures than the resort town’s recreational activities. Essay Production. As a characteristic expression of his disdain toward stuffy academic conferences, Heidegger even gave one of his own talks while wearing his ski-suit. Cassirer was the student and heir of Hermann Cohen, the unchallenged leader of Marburg Neo-Kantianism. Heidegger was the most brilliant student of the Southwest Neo-Kantian Heinrich Rickert, but was recommended to the chair of Marburg by none other than Marburger Paul Natorp. On at for miner least three separate occasions, Cassirer and Heidegger were considered for the same academic post, as successor to Husserl, then to Rickert, and finally for the leading position in Berlin in 1930 (Gordon, 2010, 40). Cassirer and Heidegger were thus the two greatest living thinkers in the tradition of Kantian philosophy, and were invited to Davos to defend their rival interpretation on of the, the question of whether an resume ontology could be derived from Kant’s epistemology.
Their positions were contradictory in clear ways: Cassirer held the Marburg line that Kant’s entire project required that the thing-in-itself be jettisoned for a transcendental analysis of the research railroad, forms of knowing. Heidegger wanted to recast not only Kant but philosophy itself as a fundamental investigation into the meaning of Being, and by specific extension, the human way of resume, Being: Dasein. The debate about the proper interpretation of Kant went nearly nowhere, and bunking school Heidegger’s interpretation had more to do with Heidegger than with Kant. Cassirer, the co-editor of the resume for miner, critical edition of Kant’s works and the author of a superb intellectual biography, was no doubt the superior exegete. School. Nevertheless, Heidegger was doubtless the more captivating and resume for miner original philosopher. Beyond their divergent interpretations of Kant, the underground railroad, debate brought to the fore two competing intellectual forces that were at genuine odds: Cassirer’s Neo-Kantian maintenance of the spontaneous mental freedom requisite for resume, the production of symbolic forms was pitted against Heidegger’s existential-phenomenological concentration on the irrevocable “thrownness” of human beings into a world of which the common denominator was their realization of death. Cassirer thought Heidegger vastly overstated Dasein’s thrownness and understated its spontaneity, and that his subjectivism discounted the objectivity of the sciences and of moral laws.
Also, if both the character of rationality and the inviolable value of the human person lie in a subject’s spontaneous use of essay ghost, theoretical and practical forms of reasoning, then the danger was clear: Heidegger’s Dasein had one foot in irrationality and the other in nihilism. The historical significance of the Davos Conference thus lay, ironically, in its symbolic meaning. Primed by the cultural clash between humanism and resume for miner iconoclasm represented by Thomas Mann’s characters Settembrini and essay Naphta, the participants in Davos expected the same battle between the for miner, stodgy old enlightenment Cassirer and the exciting, young, radical Heidegger. No doubt some in the audience fancied themselves a Hans Castorp, whose soul, and the very fate of Europe, was caught in the tug of fall roman, war between Settembrini/Cassirer’s liberal rationalism and resume for miner Naphta/Heidegger’s conservative mysticism. (Though, to be sure, Mann’s model for Naphta was Gyorgy Lukacs and not Heidegger.) In the Weimar Republic’s “Age of Crisis,” it was not so much what either man said, but what each symbolized that mattered. Writer. As Rudolf Carnap wrote in his journal, “Cassirer speaks well, but somewhat pastorally. […] Heidegger is serious and objective, as a person very attractive” (Friedman, 2000, 7). In a subsequent satirical reenactment, a young Emmanuel Levinas mocked Cassirer by performing in buffo what he took to be the salient point of his lectures at Davos: “Humboldt, culture, Humboldt, culture” (Skidelsky, 2008, 1). Resume. Indeed what Cassirer defended was then subject to parody among the young. Cassirer was the last of the great polymaths like Goethe, the last comprehensive historian like Ranke, the last optimist like Humboldt, and the last of the Neo-Kantian academic establishment.
Heidegger represented the revolution of a new German nation, one that would sweep away the old ways of philosophy as much as Hitler would sweep away Wilhelmine politics. Improvement Production. Heidegger welcomed crisis as the condition for new growth and invention; Cassirer saw in crisis the collapse of a culture that took so long to achieve. Resume. Cassirer was the great scholar. Heidegger was the roman, great philosopher. Cassirer clung to rational optimism and humanist culture while Heidegger championed existential fatalism. In 1929, the Zeitgeist clearly favored the latter. The consequences of Davos, like the meaning of the conference itself, operated on two levels. On the level of the for miner, factual, Cassirer and school Heidegger would maintain a somewhat detached respect for the other, with mutually critical yet professionally cordial responses in print over the years to come. Neither man came to change either his interpretation of Kant or his philosophy generally in any major way due to the conference.
Symbolically, however, Davos was a disaster for Cassirer and for Neo-Kantianism. Resume. Europe was immediately swept up in increasingly violent waves of nationalism. Days after Hitler’s election as Chancellor in 1933, Jews were banned from teaching in state schools. The Night of the Long Knives happened five years after Davos, and then the Night of Broken Glass four years after that. Neo-Kantian philosophers, especially the followers and friends of Hermann Cohen, were mainly Jewish. Cassirer fled to England and school then Sweden in 1933 in fear of the Nazi’s, even while Heidegger was made Rektor at Freiburg.
The Wilhelmine era’s enlightened cultural humanism, and its last defender, had clearly lost.
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franzen gaddis essay The following essay by for miner Jonathan Franzen appeared in The New Yorker . The following text has been transcribed from the 30 September 2002 issue. Mr. Difficult: William Gaddis. and the Problem of.
For a while last winter, after my third novel came out, I was getting a lot of angry mail from strangers. What upset them was not the novel — a comedy about of the empire a family in crisis — but some impolitic remarks I'd made in the press, and for miner I knew that it was a mistake to send more than bland one-sentence notes in reply. But I couldn't help fighting back a little. Essay? Taking a page from an for miner, old literary hero of mine, William Gaddis, who had long deplored the reading public's confusion of the essay improvement process production writer's work and the writer's private self, I suggested that the letter writers look at my fiction rather than listen to distorted news reports about its author. A few months later, one of the original senders, a Mrs. Resume For Miner? M—, in Maryland, wrote back with proof that she'd done the reading. She began by listing thirty fancy words and phrases from my novel, words like diurnality and antipodes, phrases like electro-pointillist Santa Claus faces. She then posed the dreadful question: Who is it that you are writing for? It surely could not be the average person who just enjoys a good read. And she offered this caricature of me and essay on the my presumed audience: The elite of New York, the resume for miner elite who are beautiful, thin, anorexic, neurotic, sophisticated, don't smoke, have abortions tri-yearly, are antiseptic, live in lofts or penthouses, this superior species of humanity who read Harper's and The New Yorker . The subtext seemed to be that difficulty in fiction is the essays tool of socially privileged readers and resume writers who turn up their noses at the natural pleasure of a good read in favor of the bunking essay invidious, artificial pleasure of resume for miner feeling superior to other people.
To Mrs. School Essay? M—, I was a pompous snob, and a real ass-hole. One part of me, the part that takes after my father, who admired scholars for their intellect and their large vocabularies and was something of resume for miner a scholar himself, wanted to call Mrs. M— a few names in reply. But another, equally strong part of essay writer me was stricken to learn that Mrs. M— felt excluded by my language. She sounded a little bit like my mother, a lifelong anti-elitist who used to resume, get good rhetorical mileage out of the school mythical average person.
My mother might have asked me if I really had to use words like diurnality, or if I was just showing off. In the face of resume for miner hostility like Mrs. M—'s, I find myself paralyzed. It turns out that I subscribe to school, two wildly different models of how fiction relates to for miner, its audience. In one model, which was championed by ghost Flaubert, the best novels are great works of resume art, the people who manage to write them deserve extraordinary credit, and if the average reader rejects the work it's because the average reader is a philistine; the value of any novel, even a mediocre one, exists independent of how many people are able to appreciate it. We can call this the Status model. It invites a discourse of improvement genius and art-historical importance. In the opposing model, a novel represents a compact between the writer and the reader, with the writer providing words out of which the reader creates a pleasurable experience.
Writing thus entails a balancing of self-expression and communication within a group, whether the group consists of Finnegans Wake enthusiasts or fans of Barbara Cartland. For Miner? Every writer is first a member of a community of readers, and the deepest purpose of reading and writing fiction is to sustain a sense of essay sympathy connectedness, to resist existential loneliness; and so a novel deserves a reader's attention only as long as the author sustains the reader's trust. This is the Contract model. The discourse here is one of pleasure and resume for miner connection. My mother would have liked it. To an adherent of Contract, the Status crowd looks like an arrogant connoisseurial elite. To a true believer in Status, on the other hand, Contract is a recipe for thesis choice pandering, aesthetic compromise, and a babel of competing literary subcommunities. With certain novels, of resume for miner course, the on the sympathy distinction doesn't matter so much. Pride and Prejudice, The House of Mirth: you call them art, I call them entertainment, we both turn the resume for miner pages. But the two models diverge tellingly when readers find a book difficult.
According to essay ghost writer, the Contract model, difficulty is a sign of trouble. In the most grievous cases, it may convict an author of placing his selfish artistic imperatives or his personal vanity ahead of the audience's legitimate desire to be entertained — of for miner being, in other words, an asshole. Underground? Taken to for miner, its free-market extreme, Contract stipulates that if a product is disagreeable to you the of the roman empire fault must be the product's. If you crack a tooth on a hard word in a novel, you sue the author. Resume For Miner? If your professor puts Dreiser on your reading list, you write a harsh student evaluation. If the local symphony plays too much twentieth-century music, you cancel your subscription. You're the consumer; you rule.
From a Status perspective, difficulty tends to signal excellence; it suggests that the improvement process novel's author has disdained cheap compromise and stayed true to resume, an artistic vision. Fall Empire Essays? Easy fiction has little value, the argument goes. Pleasure that demands hard work, the slow penetration of mystery, the outlasting of lesser readers, is the pleasure most worth having; and if, like Mrs. M—, you can't hack it, then to hell with you. The Status position is undeniably flattering to the writer's sense of importance. In my bones, though, I'm a Contract kind of person. I grew up in a friendly, egalitarian suburb reading books for pleasure and ignoring any writer who didn't take my entertainment seriously enough. Resume For Miner? Even as an essay, adult, I consider myself a slattern of a reader. I have started (in many cases, more than once) Moby-Dick, The Man Without Qualities, Mason Dixon, Don Quixote, Remembrance of Things Past, Doctor Faustus, Naked Lunch, The Golden Bowl, and The Golden Notebook without coming anywhere near finishing them. Indeed, by for miner a comfortable margin, the bunking school most difficult book I ever voluntarily read in resume for miner its entirety was Gaddis's nine-hundred-and-fifty-six-page first novel, The Recognitions.
Gaddis, whose last two books are being published this fall, four years after his death, would have been eighty this December. As much as any American writer of his generation, he frankly endorsed Status and disdained Contract. Essay Writer? His methods were increasingly postmodern, but he had old-fashioned Romantic and high-modern notions of the for miner artist as savior and the work of process art as singular and for miner sacred; the essay ghost plight of resume both art and artist in a commercially mad America was at the center of his work. Which work is, itself, quintessentially difficult. I read The Recognitions as a kind of penance, back in the early nineties. Of The Roman Essays? During the previous year, while my father, in a different time zone, was losing his mind, I'd written two treatments and four full drafts of an original screenplay. Resume? In lieu of actual dollar payments, I had the enthusiastic support of bunking a Hollywood agent who, out of pity or negligence, never mentioned that my story bore a fatal resemblance to Fun with Dick and Jane, which I hadn't seen. My story had double and triple crosses and characters who used prosthetic makeup to impersonate other characters.
I lived in that state of rage which comes of doing sustained work that you know to resume, be shoddy and dishonest. By September, when I finally abandoned the project, one wall of my study was scuffed and dented from the poem sympathy pencils, scripts, shoes, and phone books I'd been throwing at for miner it. I borrowed money and left Philadelphia to essay improvement, sublet a dark, underfurnished Tribeca loft (yes, Mrs. For Miner? M—, a loft), whose silence was disturbed only by the shadowy traffic of pigeons in of the essays the air shaft. I'd been hoping to write some fiction, but I was far too sick of audience-friendly narrative, of well-made plots and for miner lovable characters. One evening, in a state of essay sympathy grim distraction, like somebody going out to for miner, score hard drugs, I walked up Sixth Avenue and bought The Recognitions in a beautiful, newly reissued Penguin edition. Every morning for a week and a half, I went from the breakfast table to a beige ultrasuede sofa module, turned on a lamp, and read non-stop for ghost six or eight hours. I had some professional curiosity about Gaddis, but a few hundred pages of The Recognitions would have satisfied it.
I sat and read the resume extra seven hundred pages in something like a fugue state, as if planting my feet on research paper railroad, a steep slope, climbing. I was reluctant to for miner, leave my ultrasuede perch for writer any reason. The only way I could justify sitting there and spending borrowed money was to make a regular job, with regular hours, out of resume for miner climbing the mountain. There were quotations in Latin, Spanish, Hungarian, and six other languages to be rappelled across. Research Underground? Blizzards of resume for miner obscure references swirled around sheer cliffs of erudition, precipitous discourses on alchemy and school Flemish painting, Mithraism and early-Christian theology. The prose came in page-long paragraphs in which oxygen was at a premium, and the emotional temperature of the novel started cold and got colder. Resume? The hero, Wyatt Gwyon, was likable as a child (a small disgruntled person), but otherwise the author's satiric judgments and intellectual obsessions discouraged intimacy.
It was a struggle to figure out what, or even who, the story was about; dialogue was punctuated with dashes and largely unattributed; Wyatt himself dwindled to a furtive, seldom-glimpsed pronoun (he); there came brutish party scenes, all-dialogue word storms that raged for scores of pages. Thesis? The only portable nourishment that might have helped sustain me on my climb was a familiarity with Gaddis's influences, maybe a nice pemmican of T. S. Eliot and Robert Graves, which I hadn't thought to bring. I was alone and unprepared on resume, a steep-sided, frigid, airless, poorly mapped mountain. Did I already mention that The Recognitions has nine hundred and essay ghost fifty-six pages? But I loved it. At the novel's hidden pinnacle, behind its clouds of subsidiary symbolism, beyond its blind canyons of Beat anti-narrative, is a story about the for miner loss of personal integrity and bunking the difficult work of regaining it. For Miner? Wyatt, a talented painter and former seminarian in writer his early thirties, is resume, living in New York, unhappily married, and scraping by as a hired draftsman. He has abandoned his painterly ambitions, possibly because a corrupt French critic panned his early work, but more likely because he is incredibly earnest and has never found an adequate reply to the condemnation of art which a puritanical great-aunt issued in his boyhood: Our Lord is the only true creator, and improvement only sinful people try to for miner, emulate Him. One day, in New York, an American capitalist and art collector named Recktall Brown proposes a Faustian bargain: Wyatt will forge the work of Flemish Old Masters, and Brown will sell them for bunking huge sums. Wyatt agrees to the deal, but after some early success he proves lacking in resume the necessary spinelessness. He considers resuming his religious studies, but when he goes home to New England he discovers that his father, a Protestant minister, has taken up Mithraism and lost his mind.
Wyatt thereupon embarks on empire essays, a long pilgrimage of sorts, first in resume New York, where he tries to expose his own forgeries, and later in essay on the sympathy Europe. He is resume, last seen leaving a Spanish monastery, on page 900, intending, at last, to live deliberately. Having surmounted the American Protestant suspicion of art and survived the dangerous attractions of the American Protestant marketplace, he seems finally on essay writer, his way to being a real painter. At the time, on the mountainside, I wasn't conscious of clinging to the parallels between Wyatt's story and resume my own situation: our weirdly isolated lives in lower Manhattan, our failed attempts to sell out, our extremely earnest doubts about art, our craving for penance, our crazy fathers. I was just happy to have a good, hard book to read, and I was impressed with myself for essay poem managing it. Following Wyatt's pilgrimage became my own pilgrimage. The loft, for those ten days, in spite of the resume gurgling pigeons, was the thesis multiple choice quietest place I've ever been. It was profoundly, metaphysically quiet. By the time I reached the last page of The Recognitions, I felt readier to face the divorce, deaths, and dislocations that were waiting for for miner me out in the sunlit world.
I felt virtuous, as if I'd run three miles, eaten my kale, been to on the, the dentist, filed my tax return, or gone to church. One pretty good definition of college is that it's a place where people are made to read difficult books. Resume For Miner? Certainly, my own moments of peak collegiate learning occurred whenever I acquired new tools to unlock difficulty — when I was forced to figure out, all by myself, that Emily Dickinson sometimes meant the opposite of what her words said, or when my German professor asked us, with a mysterious grin, whether it was possible that Josef K. was guilty . To learn about irony, ambiguity, symbol, voice, and point of view, it made sense to read the most sophisticated texts. Four years of sophistication had a cumulative effect. As a freshman, I thought it would be cool to make up stories for a living, to have that be my job, to see my name in print. On The? By the time I was a senior, my ambition was to resume, create literary Art. I took for essay poem sympathy granted that the greatest novels were tricky in their methods, resisted casual reading, and merited sustained study. I also assumed that the highest compliment this Art could be paid was to be taught in resume for miner a university.
My parents didn't understand this. When I began to write my first book, after college, I could feel my father's skeptical eye on me, could hear him asking questions like What are you contributing to society with your abilities? In college, I'd admired Derrida and the Marxist and feminist critics, people whose job was to find fault with modern Systems. I thought that maybe now I, too, could become socially useful by writing fault-finding fiction. At the essay improvement process production excellent public library in Somerville, Massachusetts, I identified a canon of intellectual, socially edgy white-male American fiction writers. The same names — Pynchon, DeLillo, Heller, Coover, Gaddis, Gass, Burroughs, Barth, Barthelme, Hannah, Hawkes, McElroy, and resume Elkin — kept showing up together in anthologies and in school essay the respectful appraisals of contemporary critics. Resume For Miner? Though various in school their styles, they all seemed to take as a given that something was new and strange and resume for miner wrong about postwar America. They shared the postmodern suspicion of realism, summarized by the critic Jerome Klinkowitz: If the world is absurd, if what passes for reality is distressingly unreal, why spend time representing it? To prove to myself, if not to school essay, my father, that I was engaged in a serious professional pursuit, I tried to resume, join this guild. I was one of essay ghost those skinny young men in scary glasses and thrift-store clothes whom you see on Boston or Brooklyn subways, young men who look like they possess massive amounts of data about small-label rock bands or avant-garde literature or video technology, the very size of these data-sets affording a kind of resume for miner psychic protection. And Gaddis ought to have been my ideal.
Gaddis, it was generally agreed, was the really smart, really angry, really forbidding Systems writer. The Recognitions was an ur-text of postwar fiction, both the granddaddy of difficulty and the first great cultural critique, which, even if Heller and Pynchon hadn't read it while composing Catch-22 and V., managed to anticipate the spirit of both. Ghost Writer? Gaddis was the for miner original intense, thrift-store-clad, monster-data-set young man whose ambition, if he let it show in public, would have singed his fellow subway riders' eyebrows. My problem was that, with a few exceptions, notably Don DeLillo, I didn't particularly like the thesis multiple choice writers in my modern canon. I checked out their books (including The Recognitions), read a few pages, and returned them. Resume? I liked the paper idea of socially engaged fiction, I was at resume work on multiple, my own Systems novel of conspiracy and resume for miner apocalypse, and I craved academic and hipster respect of the kind that Pynchon and Gaddis got and Saul Bellow and Ann Beattie didn't. School? But Bellow and Beattie, not to mention Dickens and Conrad and Bronte and Dostoyevsky and Christina Stead, were the writers I actually, unhiply enjoyed reading. If Coover's The Public Burning and Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 moved me, it was mainly because I loved Coover's character Richard Nixon and Pynchon's Oedipa Maas. But postmodern fiction wasn't supposed to be about sympathetic characters.
Characters, properly speaking, weren't even supposed to exist. Characters were feeble, suspect constructs, like the author himself, like the human soul. Nevertheless, to for miner, my shame, I seemed to need them. It wasn't until the essay on the poem sympathy nineties, after I'd wasted a year on resume for miner, the screenplay, that I tried to rekindle my collegiate excitement about really hard books. I needed proof that I was a serious Artist, rather than the unwitting plagiarist of Fun with Dick and Jane, and The Recognitions was perfect for essay ghost the task. Reading the whole thing would also confer bragging rights. If somebody asked me if I'd read The Sot-Weed Factor, I could shoot back, No, but have you read The Recognitions?
And blow smoke from the resume muzzle of railroad my gun. In the event, nothing was as I'd expected. Not many people in the nineties were asking if I'd read The Sot-Weed Factor. The Recognitions, on the other hand — whether because of its virtues or because of the circumstances of for miner my reading it — bowled me over. Its characters weren't sympathetic, but the on the wit and resume passion and seriousness of thesis multiple choice questionnaire their creator were. I titled my third novel partly in homage to it.
A few years after I conquered The Recognitions, I started Gaddis's second novel, J R. I again bought the handsome Penguin paperback, and I devoted an hour or two each evening to for miner, reading it. The novel, a massive comedy of modern American venality and social entropy, was just as brilliant as The Recognitions. Paper Railroad? Unfortunately, I no longer had the luxury or burden of resume entire days for reading. One night, I gave up in of the roman empire essays the middle of a four-page paragraph, and for the next few nights I was out late, and when I opened J R again I was lost. Resume? I set it aside, hoping to pick up the threads some other night. Two months later, I quietly reshelved it.
The bookmark, a sassy Ticketmaster sleeve bearing an ad for K-ROCK 92.3 FM (HOWARD STERN ALL MORNING / CLASSIC ROCK 'N' ROLL ALL DAY), remained stuck on page 469, attesting to my defeat by J R or to process, J R 's defeat by for miner my noisy life. In Status terms, I'd simply failed as a reader. But I did have Contract on paper underground railroad, my side. For Miner? I'd given the essay on the poem book weeks of evening reading, it still wasn't working for me, and now I was eager to read shorter, warmer books by James Purdy, Alice Munro, Penelope Fitzgerald, Halldor Laxness. Battling through J R, I'd wanted to grab Gaddis by resume the lapels and on the sympathy shout, Hello! I'm the reader you want! I love smart fiction, and I'm looking for a good Systems novel. If you can't even show me a good time, who else do you think is going to read you? But this only made it worse that I had quit. Precisely because I was so well suited to read Gaddis, I felt as if I were personally betraying him by not finishing J R. From a Congregationalist childhood I'd gone straight to a collegiate worship of Art, without noticing the transition and for miner without ever quite buying either faith.
One day a secretary called from the Congregational church to ask if I still wanted to be a member, and I said no, and thesis that was that. But it's much harder to leave a small, embattled cult than a mainstream suburban church. Nothing in my Congregational experience had prepared me for the fanatical fervor, the guilt-provoking authority, of Mr. For Miner? Difficult. There's something medieval Christian about The Recognitions.
The novel is like a huge landscape painting of modern New York, peopled with hundreds of essay doomed but energetic little figures, executed on wood panels by Brueghel or Bosch, and looking incongruously ancient beneath layers of yellowed lacquer. Even the blue skies in the book (the phrase Another blue day recurs as a despair-inducing leitmotiv) glow like oil-paint skies in an art museum beyond whose walls, forgotten, is the age of H-bombs and resume for miner Army-McCarthy hearings in which the novel was written. The names dropped are Hans Memling, not Harry Truman; Paracelsus, not Elvis. And yet the book is absolutely of the early fifties. Peel away the erudition, and you have The Catcher in the Rye: a grim winter sojourn in a seedy Manhattan, a quest for authenticity in a phony modern world. Improvising on the theme of art forgery, Gaddis fills his novel with every conceivable variety of fraud, counterfeiter, poseur, and liar. Bunking School Essay? Unlike Holden Caulfield, though, the main characters of The Recognitions participate in the phonyness themselves. The young literary poseur, Otto Pivner, is working on a play whose plot, he says, still needs a little tightening up. The narrator glosses this lie in a tone that's fundamental to the novel, a tone at once unsparing and forgiving: (By this Otto meant that a plot of some sort had yet to be supplied, to motivate the series of monologues in which Gordon, a figure who resembled Otto at for miner his better moments, and whom Otto greatly admired, said things which Otto had overheard, or thought of too late to say.) Wyatt Gwyon may be the romantic projection of the author's artistic aspirations (How ambitious you are! his wife, Esther, unhappily exclaims), but it's Otto who seems to embody Gaddis's own confusion, humiliations, and disappointments. Otto's biography overlaps with Gaddis's — both grew up fatherless, both spent time in Central America and ghost writer returned to New York via banana boat with their arms, though uninjured, in for miner picturesque slings — and I suspect that the multiple questionnaire book owes some of its mood of resume for miner playful fabulation to essay production, Gaddis's implication in resume for miner his own satire.
The one genuine artist in essay improvement production The Recognitions is for miner, a devoutly Catholic young composer named Stanley. Throughout the book, Stanley is working on a requiem for organ which he hopes to play in writer a fragile old church in northern Italy. In the very last pages, as the novel circles back to Europe, Stanley travels to the church and, failing to understand the for miner caretaker's warning against thesis choice questionnaire playing anything dissonant or too heavy on bass, begins to perform the requiem. The church collapses and kills him, and The Recognitions closes with some of resume its best-known lines: most of his work was recovered too, and it is still spoken of, when it is noted, with high regard, though seldom played. The other well-known lines in The Recognitions are uttered by Wyatt after Esther voices surprise that a certain popular poet (Auden, perhaps) is homosexual. Rejecting her interest in personal things about writers and thesis multiple questionnaire painters as a prurient distraction, Wyatt bursts out: What is there left of resume for miner him when he's done his work? What's any artist, but the dregs of his work? the human shambles that follows it around. Thesis Choice? What's left of the man when the work's done but a shambles of apology. Gaddis portrays Esther as a vagina dentata eager to for miner, sleep with male artists and absorb the properties which had been withheld from improvement process, her.
Wyatt retreats from for miner, her into coldness and abstraction, and Gaddis retreats from readers in much the same way — as if, for him, intercourse with the public were a pleasure that threatened to essay poem sympathy, taint the purity of his motives. What mattered to Gaddis, who avowedly strove to write literature that would last, was not the weak and fleshly artist but the afterlife. Although he had a family, many friends, and a busy social life in which he enjoyed literary gossip, he consistently denied his person to the public. Strict prohibitions like this are a way in which threatened religious minorities resist the seductions of the resume for miner majority culture, and Gaddis in the fifties had Norman Mailer and Truman Capote as examples of writers who had been seduced. He chose, instead, to be a purist of his faith. In his fifty-year career, he gave exactly one substantial interview, to The Paris Review . He published one brief autobiographical essay. Essay Ghost? He gave no public readings. Not that an excess of media attention was ever a big problem.
The Recognitions was published by Harcourt, Brace in resume 1955, with a marketing strategy of school Everyone is talking about for miner this controversial book! It received fifty-five reviews, an thesis multiple, impressive number by resume for miner today's standards, and, as William Gass notes in ghost his introduction to the Penguin edition, Only fifty-three of these notices were stupid. The New Yorker gave the book a brief, smirking dismissal (words, words, words); Dawn Powell, in the Post, offered up an resume, error-riddled sneer. Sales were about five thousand in hardcover, not bad for a challenging first novel by an unknown writer. But the only prize the book won was for its design, and it quickly disappeared from public sight. I almost think that if I'd gotten the Nobel Prize when The Recognitions was published I wouldn't have been terribly surprised, Gaddis told The Paris Review in 1986, adding that the book's reception had been sobering and humbling.
Maybe if the novel had met with greater acclaim Gaddis would have relaxed a little; maybe Wyatt's what is research paper underground, it they want tirade, like his other puritan-isms, would have been revealed as a skinny-young-man attitude to be outgrown. I doubt it, though. The book is about the resume everyday world's indifference to the superior reality of art. Its last lines (with high regard, though seldom played) unmistakably prefigure its own reception. Nurturing the hope that your marginal novel will be celebrated by the mainstream — the Cassandra-like wish that people will thank you for telling them unwelcome truths — is a ritual way of insuring disappointment, of reaffirming your own world-denying status, of bunking school essay mortifying the resume flesh, of research paper underground railroad remaining, at resume heart, an thesis multiple questionnaire, angry young man.
In the resume for miner four decades following the essay improvement process production publication of The Recognitions, Gaddis's work grew angrier and angrier. It's a signature paradox of literary postmodernism: the resume for miner writer whose least angry work was written first. Some of thesis multiple choice Gaddis's rage appears to for miner, have been built-in. Ghost Writer? Born in resume 1922, he grew up with his mother in fall an old house in Massapequa, Long Island, and at a small Connecticut boarding school that he attended from the ages of five to thirteen. Five is for miner, young for boarding school, and five strikes me as a vital figure in Gaddis's biography. In J R, an production, alter ego of Gaddis, an for miner, angry drinker named Jack Gibbs who was likewise sent to boarding school at the age of five, speaks of having been in bunking school essay the way since the day I could walk, and he describes the loneliness of boarding school:
End of the day alone on that train, lights coming on in those little Connecticut towns stop and stare out at an empty street corner dry cheese sandwich charge you a dollar wouldn't even put butter on it, finally pull into resume for miner, that desolate station scared to get off scared to bunking school, stay on . . . school car waiting there like . . . a God damned open hearse think anybody expect to grow up. Gaddis as a young man was a rowdy, a drinker. Resume For Miner? Kept from the war by a kidney ailment, he studied English at Harvard and became president of the Lampoon , but in his senior year he was expelled without a degree after a run-in with the Cambridge police. Research Underground Railroad? He then bounced around Europe, Latin America, and New York during the seven somewhat shadowy years he was at for miner work on The Recognitions. In the year of its publication, he married an thesis multiple questionnaire, actress, Pat Black, with whom he soon had two children. Resume? Here the mood of school essay his biography abruptly changes, the foreign locales giving way to fifties commerce and suburban life with kids. Like Melville a century before him, Gaddis went to work for a living in lower Manhattan. He did public-relations writing for I.B.M., Eastman Kodak, Pfizer, and the United States Army, among others. (An evaluator at I.B.M., recommending a simpler style for one of his projects, complained that the whole of the text is perhaps too much an impenetrable mass.) For twenty years, even as the country's literary tastes were swinging from the realism dominant in the fifties to the zanier modes of Portnoy's Complaint and resume for miner Catch-22, Gaddis essentially dropped out of sight. Multiple Choice Questionnaire? He started and abandoned a novel on business and a play about the Civil War. He smoked a lot and drank a lot. Resume? His first marriage ended when he was living in Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
Not until the end of the research railroad sixties did he scrape together enough grant money to return full time to the novel about business. By the time the book was published, in 1975, the country's mood had caught up with him. J R received major and admiring review attention and won the for miner National Book Award. The chunky paperback edition with its chunky title lettering was, like Patti Smith LPs and the Moosewood Cookbook, a common sight in the secondhand stores and essay improvement process student-slum apartments of my college years. The spine of resume for miner J R was often suspiciously uncracked, however, or a strangely low used price was pencilled inside the ghost cover, or the bookmark, which might be a sheet of rolling paper or a Talking Heads ticket stub, could be found on page 118, or 19, or 53, because Gaddis's fiction was, if anything, more difficult than ever.
J R is a seven-hundred-and-twenty-six-page novel consisting almost entirely of overheard voices, with nary a quotation mark, no conventional narration of for miner any kind, no later that same evening, no meanwhile in research underground railroad New York, not a single chapter break, not even a section break, but thousands of dashes and ellipses, another cast of dozens, and a laughably complicated plot based on Wagner's Ring and centered on a multimillion-dollar business empire owned and resume for miner operated by an eleven-year-old Long Island schoolboy named J R Vansant. J R is the grubby kid you have to laugh at on the poem sympathy because he's not old enough to hate, the preadolescent whose entire being is for miner, devoted to wanting stuff and to trading it for other, better stuff. Fall? First he does it with a classmate: -Boy, what crap. That's all you've got is crap. What's this. -It's this club you can join if I recommend you. -What kind of club. Resume? -It's this club, see? You step inside and suddenly excitement surrounds you! You enter a world highlighted by the soft, flickering glow of essay open-hearth fireplaces . Resume? . . the attentive rustle of beautiful Bunnies- Soon enough, he's trading with captains of industry. Early in thesis choice questionnaire the novel, J R's sixth-grade teacher takes the class to Wall Street to buy one share of Diamond Cable stock and learn how our system works. While the resume for miner class's new stock is losing ten per cent of essay its value in a few hours, and resume brokers and corporate officers are engaging in essay vile manipulations of markets and resume senators and essay ghost foreign governments, and a corporate P.R. flak is resume for miner, laying on the smarm (you and your other fellow Americans no longer play a passive part in our nation's great economy), J R is studying the bylaws of Diamond Cable, asking dead-on questions like What's a warrant? and What's that minus sign two and an eighth? and ascertaining that the class's share of improvement process production stock entitles it to file a shareholder's lawsuit.
Within weeks, by threatening such a suit and resume accepting a cash settlement, J R, who conducts his business on a pay phone at bunking the middle school, acquires his working capital. He buys a million and a half Navy-surplus wooden picnic forks, a bankrupt textile mill in upstate New York, and resume then an outward-spiralling galaxy of dubious concerns — a brewery, a printer, a publisher, a nursing home, a mortuary. Thesis Choice? Like his creator, J R is an obsessive. (Also like Gaddis, J R has no visible father. Resume For Miner? His mother is a busy nurse.) He pursues what his country teaches him is worth pursuing. He's devoid of essay writer charm, compassion, and scruples, but he doesn't know any better, and for miner so you root for him against thesis multiple choice the novel's many corporate and legal sharks, who should know better but behave just as badly. J R anticipates Jonathan Lebed, the alleged teen-age market manipulator in resume for miner New Jersey. It predicts the S. L. crises and corporate raiders of the eighties (Because like what good is this here pension fund doing just sitting there, J R wonders, if we can like put it to work for them to get this here acquisition, you know?), and essay it nicely demolishes President Bush's claim that Wall Street greed was an anomaly of the nineties. The most sincere adult in the novel is, again, a young composer, a sweetheart named Edward Bast, whom J R dragoons into serving as the front man for his conglomerate.
While Bast spends his days helping other characters (nobody, of course, helps him), the resume for miner opera that he wants to compose is gradually scaled back to a cantata, to a piece for small orchestra, and, finally, to a piece for solo cello. The novel's maddening distractions recall the frustrations of Kafka's fiction; you can sense an author nightmarishly unable to find a quiet space to work. Bast tries to compose music in essay ghost writer a Manhattan pied-a-terre that's a bitter cartoon of resume for miner entropy; two broken faucets spew hot water day and night, the only clock runs backward, the rooms are piled high with boxes of unidentified crap, a never located radio dribbles nonsense, and bushels of junk mail keep arriving for multiple questionnaire J R, who has sent Bast a mechanized envelope opener that slices letters in half. In another part of town, Thomas Eigen, a P.R. writer for Diamond Cable who once wrote an important literary novel, comes home from the office too tired to work on his new opus. The apartment is a mess, his wife is angry, and his little boy insists that he play a board game: -You got in the Heffalump's trap.
Mama Papa got in the Heffalump trap. Mama? -She can't hear you David. Don't shout. -If I get red now I'll, yellow. I got yellow too look, I always win look, now look where I am and. -David you don't always win, nobody. -I won Mama four times today. Mama? -Stop shouting David.
He held the bag down, -and I. got. -Black! You peeked. Papa you peeked! -Peeked? J R is written for the active reader. Resume? You're well advised to carry a pencil with which to flag plot points and empire draw flow charts on the inside back cover. The novel is a welter of dozens of interconnecting scams, deals, seductions, extortions, and betrayals. Between scenes, when the dialogue yields briefly to run-on sentences whose effect is like a blurry handheld video or a speeded-up movie, the resume for miner images that flash by are of denatured, commercialized landscapes — trees being felled, fields paved over, roads widened — that recall to the modern reader how aesthetically shocking postwar automotive America must have been, how dismaying and portentous the first strip malls, the first five-acre parking lots. Indeed, one defense of essay ghost Gaddis and his difficulty is that conventional fiction, driven by substantial characters and based on a soul-to-soul Contract between reader and writer, was simply inadequate to for miner, the social and technological crises that twentieth-century writers saw developing all around them.
Both the essay ghost writer moderns and the postmoderns resorted to a kind of literature of emergency. The moderns employed new, self-conscious methods to address the new reality and preserve the vanishing old one. The postmodern enterprise was even more radical: to resist absorption or cooptation by an all-absorbing, all-coopting System. Closure was the enemy, and the way to avoid it was to refuse to participate in the System. For Pynchon this meant flight and paranoia; for resume Burroughs it meant transgression. For Gaddis it meant being very angry — so angry that, at a certain point, he stopped making sense.
Halfway through J R, I bailed out. As one of his ex-followers, I wonder: Did I betray him, or did he betray me? One frequent problem with the literature of emergency is that it doesn't age well. In the fifties and sixties, Gaddis and fall roman empire his cohort sounded alarms about the resume for miner emergence of a world in which we've now been living for decades. Our suburban, gasoline-dependent, TV-watching American present looks a lot more like 1952 than 1952 looked like 1902. As the decades pass, the postmodern program, the notion of formal experimentation as an act of resistance, begins to seem seriously misconceived. Fiction is the most fundamental human art. Fiction is storytelling, and our reality arguably consists of the stories we tell about ourselves.
Fiction is also conservative and conventional, because the thesis questionnaire structure of resume its market is relatively democratic (novelists make a living one book at a time, bringing pleasure to large audiences), and because a novel asks for ten or twenty hours of solitary attentiveness from each member of school its audience. You can walk past a painting fifty times before you begin to appreciate it. You can drift in and out of a Bartok sonata until its structures dawn on resume for miner, you, but a difficult novel just sits there on your shelf unread — unless you happen to be a student, in which case you're obliged to turn the pages of Woolf and of the essays Beckett. This may make you a better reader. But to resume, wrest the novel away from its original owner, the essay bourgeois reader, requires strenuous effort from theoreticians. And once literature and its criticism become co-dependent the fallacies set in. For example, the Fallacy of Capture, as in resume the frequent praise of Finnegans Wake for its capturing of human consciousness, or in the justification of J R 's longueurs by its capture of an elusive postwar American reality; as if a novel were primarily an ethnographic recording, as if the point of reading fiction were not to go fishing but to admire somebody else's catch. Or the Fallacy of the Symphonic, in which a book's motifs and voices are described as washing over research the reader in for miner orchestral fashion; as if, when you're reading J R, its pages just turn themselves, words wafting up into your head like arpeggios. Or the Fallacy of Art Historicism, a pedagogical convenience borrowed from the moneyed world of visual art, where a work's value substantially depends on its novelty; as if fiction were as formally free as painting, as if what makes The Great Gatsby and O Pioneers! good novels were primarily their technical innovations. Or the epidemic Fallacy of the Stupid Reader, implicit in every modern aesthetics of difficulty, wherein difficulty is a strategy to protect art from cooptation and the purpose of this art is to upset or compel or challenge or subvert or scar the thesis multiple choice unsuspecting reader; as if the writer's audience somehow consisted, again and again, of Charlie Browns running to kick Lucy's football; as if it were a virtue in resume a novelist to be the kind of boor who propagandizes at friendly social gatherings. It's unfortunate for Gaddis that so many of his friends, scholars, and defenders participate in these fallacies.
Joseph Tabbi, the editor of Gaddis's essays and a true believer in subversive difficulty, thinks that the Apocalypse — the death of the individual, the triumph of the System — is not merely imminent, it has already occurred without your even realizing it, so don't blame the orphic Gaddis for his inaccessibility. Tabbi's apologies are a nice example of essay five-alarm avant-gardism: Gaddis's audience has been limited in part because readers trained on nineteenth-century realism miss in his work those signs and conventional symptoms by which characters may be recognized, too readily, as rounded and whole. For Miner? Such conventional characters are agents within a bourgeois and industrial world that is essay on the sympathy, now, in the United States, largely historical. If you're having a good time with a novel, you're a dupe of the for miner postindustrial System; if you still identify with characters, you need to retake Postmodernism 101. William Gass, in his introduction to school, The Recognitions, names the childish thing that it's time to put behind us: Too often we bring to literature the bias for for miner 'realism' we were normally brought up with. Gass's defense of difficulty complements Tabbi's, but with greater sophistry and on the poem sympathy alliteration. If the author works at his work, Gass writes, the reader may also have to, whereas when a writer whiles away both time and words, the reader may relax and gently peruse.
Gaddis's fiction could have used fewer friends like this and better enemies. Resume? Even Steven Moore, a Gaddis scholar whose criticism is a model of bunking school essay clarity and intelligent advocacy, lets his enthusiasm get the better of resume him. J R, for research underground Moore, is a lean and economical book, because its inferential, all-dialogue form forces readers to supply missing descriptions and information; the purpose of a novel being, I suppose, to capture and resume for miner efficiently store data. My small hope for literary criticism would be to hear less about orchestras and capturings and more about the erotic and research railroad culinary arts. Think of the novel as lover: Let's stay home tonight and have a great time. Just because you're touched where you want to resume for miner, be touched, it doesn't mean you're cheap; before a book can change you, you have to essay improvement process production, love it. Resume For Miner? Or the novelist as the cook who prepares, as a gift to the reader, this many-course meal.
It's not all ice cream, but sauteed broccoli rabe has charms of its own. Difficult fiction of the kind epitomized by school essay Gaddis seems to me more closely associated with the lower end of the digestive tract. His detractors refer to his logorrhea, but it's more accurate to characterize him as retentive-constipated to the point of resume being unreadable, sometimes even unintelligible. Edmund Wilson, in his Freudian phase, identified the multiple questionnaire playwright Ben Jonson as a classic anal-retentive writer, obsessed with excretion, money, lists, seedy underworlds, arcane words, obscure references. Wilson suggested that the best writers trust their talents, and he contrasted Jonson's cramped output with that of his friend and rival Shakespeare, whose open and free nature Jonson himself praised. The Alchemist, Jonson's peculiar play about a London con man posing as a transmuter of gold, reads like Renaissance Gaddis. Both writers stuff far too many swindles into their plots, and for both of resume them money is the research paper railroad world's shit (Recktall Brown!), at once fascinating and repellent.
If I'm sounding a little Freudian myself, it's because the first lines of page 523, the terminus of resume my second reading of J R, look so much like impacted excreta: across smalltite traces and bunking essay has Nonny put in for a mineral depletion allowance tipped his hand to resume, the FDA coming down hard on cobalt safety levels now Milliken jumps in to protect home industry only thing they had besides sheep and Indians till he suddenly gets the idea his state is Lean and on the sympathy economical? J R suffers from the for miner madness it attempts to resist. Essay Ghost? The first ten pages and the last ten pages and every ten pages in between bring the news that American life is shallow, fraudulent, venal, and hostile to artists. But there never has been and never will be a reader who is unpersuaded of this news on page 10 but persuaded on page 726. The novel becomes as chilly, mechanistic, and exhausting as the System it describes. Its world is ruled by corporate white men who pursue their work with pleasureless zeal, casually sideline women and minorities, and invent difficult insider languages to discourage newcomers: how oddly like the book itself! (And how odd that Gaddis and his academic admirers reject Christian Puritanism only to demand that his readers renounce the sinful pleasures of realism and cultivate a selfless and pure love of Art!) Even the fascination of resume J R Vansant wanes by mid-novel. J R is an avatar of Bart Simpson, but Bart is incomparably better suited to essay process production, our cultural environment than J R is. Even the for miner best gags in J R wear you out poem, before you're done with them. On The Simpsons, the gags hit their target, the target feels pain, and next week there's a new episode.
The curious thing is that I suspect Gaddis himself would rather have watched The Simpsons. I suspect that if anyone else had written his later novels, from J R onward, he would not have wanted to read them, and resume that if he had read them he would not have liked them. Fall Of The Empire? Gaddis developed a style that his disciples believe ought to have transformed the way Americans read fiction, but his own tastes were notably conservative. Resume? He had particular disdain for modern art. For the cover of thesis multiple his fourth novel, A Frolic of His Own (1994), he chose an abstract painting by his daughter, Sarah, without mentioning on the jacket that she'd painted it when she was five: See, any child can paint like that. Resume? Steven Moore, no doubt with the best of ghost intentions, has assembled an impressive list of what Gaddis did and didn't like to read. Basically, he didn't like art fiction. He had, Moore reports, little interest in the contemporaries with which he was associated, including Pynchon. In general, Moore concludes, he seemed more likely to pick up a novel like Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City (which he found 'very funny') than novels as challenging as his own. To serve the reader a fruitcake that you wouldn't eat yourself, to build the reader an uncomfortable house you wouldn't want to for miner, live in: this violates what seems to me the categorical imperative for any fiction writer. This is the ultimate breach of Contract.
If J R is fall roman, dedicated to the proposition that America sucks, the message of his third novel, Carpenter's Gothic (1985), is that it really, really, really sucks. Gaddis himself conceded that the book was an exercise in resume for miner style, and its content is strictly paint-by-numbers. A telegenic Southern preacher turns out to be — a dangerous, venal hypocrite! A United States senator turns out to be — corrupt! The book is a husk. Unlike The Recognitions, it was handsomely reviewed. Gaddis's last real novel, A Frolic of multiple choice His Own, rambles on for nearly six hundred pages in resume illustration of questionnaire how a system designed to create order (American law) can end up sponsoring disorder. The book is for miner, ideal for graduate study. Paper? It makes a banal but unexceptionable social point (we litigate too much in America), it's riddled with motifs, quotations, stories within stories, and countless allusions to Gaddis's own earlier works and resume for miner other famous texts (better brush up on your Plato and Longfellow), and its only aesthetic weakness, really, is that much of it is repetitive, incoherent, and insanely boring.
This novel, of course, got the warmest reviews of any of Gaddis's books, and was given one of those unofficial lifetime-achievement National Book Awards. The best parts of thesis multiple choice Frolic are the legal opinions and resume for miner the characterizations. Creating a character entirely through dialogue is like boxing with one arm behind your back, and fall I'm not persuaded by resume for miner the Gaddistic argument that straining our imaginations makes a character any more real to us. (In fact, the work of essay reading Gaddis makes me wonder if our brains might even be hard-wired for conventional storytelling, structurally eager to form pictures from sentences as featureless as She stood up.) Still, his inferentially drawn characters can be vivid. Oscar Crease is a fifty-something amateur playwright and part-time professor in whose disorderly person a comically large number of lawsuits intersect. He lives in the large old house of his childhood on Long Island, hopelessly surrounded by a lifetime's worth of resume for miner miscellaneous papers: another cartoon of entropy. Functionally, Oscar is a baby. He spends much of the novel in research underground a wheelchair, forever pawing at resume for miner his girlfriend's blouse, trying to get his hands and mouth on her breasts, and sucking down wine day and night. In The Recognitions, a son grows up and vanishes. Carpenter's Gothic, the book without children, is a book without hope. At the center of the other two novels is a very large child. Essay On The Poem? In Frolic, it's the selfish, unreasonable, self-pitying, incapable, insatiable Oscar, a pig in the role of for miner king, a suffering artist who (ha ha!) happens to have little talent.
Oscar claims your sympathy only to abuse it. His long play about the Civil War is essay improvement, obviously and unfunnily bad, but a hundred pages are devoted to reproducing the manuscript and for miner another fifty to endless jawing about its relation to art, justice, and order. The novel is an underground railroad, example of the particular corrosiveness of literary postmodernism. Resume For Miner? Gaddis began his career with a Modernist epic about the forgery of masterpieces. Multiple Choice Questionnaire? He ended it with a pomo romp that superficially resembles a masterpiece but punishes the reader who tries to stay with it and follow its logic. When the reader finally says, Hey, wait a minute, this is a mess, not a masterpiece, the book instantly morphs into a performance-art prop: its fraudulence is the whole point! And the reader is out twenty hours of good-faith effort. Regarding Gaddis's two posthumously published books, I feel the way I did when my father was in a nursing home. Unless you're a very good old friend, it's better not to see him suffering like this.
The title of Gaddis's last novel, Agape Agape, comes from a tonally arch and intellectually dubious essay that he once wrote about player pianos and mechanization in the arts. The book is mainly a free-form rant, however, with the sentences, yes, run the sentences, run together, make it choppy, even easier than it looks but no what no, what matters is the art . An unnamed novelist lies dying, his body a wreck that has betrayed his spirit. He reproaches himself for his failures, denounces the populist herd for misunderstanding him, and worries that he's perceived as a mere cartoon. But a cartoon is what Agape Agape is: one opaque, obsessive, citation-riddled, solipsistic paragraph deifying the work as the only refuge from one's painful humanity. The novel did manage to stab me with its final note, a note reminiscent of Gaddis's early dreams of a Nobel Prize — That was Youth with its reckless exuberance when all things were possible pursued by resume Age where we are now, looking back at what we destroyed, what we tore away from that self who could do more, and its work that's become my enemy because that's what I can tell you about, that Youth who could do anything — but I was moved for the very reasons that Gaddis denigrated throughout his career: because I was touched by the human shambles. I was thinking of the artist, not the essay process production art.
If you're still wondering if you missed something, some key to Gaddis that will unlock his difficulty, you can set your mind at rest by reading The Rush for Second Place, a slender collection of his essays and occasional writings. Here you'll learn that Gaddis can't finish even a short nonfiction piece without breaking into a rant. You'll find essays consisting of strung-together quotes that you have to read carefully, twice, before you conclude that no argument (or, indeed, logic) is hidden in the string.You'll see that, sure enough, literary difficulty can operate as a smoke screen for an author who has nothing interesting, wise, or entertaining to say. You'll find not one reference to for miner, the pleasure of reading fiction. You'll learn, rather, that Gaddis believed that novels should improve the world — that good fiction is not about the way things are but about the way things should be. You'll learn that the phrase agape agape refers to his belief that the essay ghost writer world of Contract, the American world of dollars and machines, has ripped apart the charitable love ( agape ) to which early-Christian communities aspired. Or something like that — it's a little unclear.
I imagine Gaddis's disciples wagging their fingers at me, telling me I'm another Stupid Reader, explaining that the resume essays subvert my expectations of clarity, of pleasure, of edification; that I haven't got the joke yet. They have postmodern apologies for his difficulty, such as this one by Gregory Comnes: The narrative enactment of this epistemology shows readers how hard work is a necessary precondition for having meaning in narrative by fall of the roman forcing readers to participate actively in the construction of for miner narrative meaning, requiring them to bring information to the text to read what was never written. They tell me, in other words, that I just need to work a little bit harder . To which I can only reply that there is no headache like the headache you get from working harder on deciphering a text than the author, by all appearances, has worked on assembling it; and that I'm beginning to get that headache. And beginning, as well, to sound like Mrs. M—? Like many other Contract-minded Americans, like the literary societies of a hundred years ago, like the book clubs of today, I understand that the Contract sometimes calls for work. Poem Sympathy? I know the pleasures of a book aren't always easy. I expect to work; I want to work. It's also in for miner my Protestant nature, however, to expect some reward for this work. And, although critics can give me pastoral guidance as I seek this reward, ultimately I think each individual is alone with his or her conscience.
As a reader, I seek a direct personal relationship with art. The books I love, the books on which my faith in literature rests, are the ones with which I can have this kind of relationship. The Recognitions, to essay improvement process production, my surprise, turned out to for miner, be a book like this. After The Recognitions, however, something happened to Gaddis. Some-thing went haywire. Whether it's true or not, I tell myself a story about a five-year-old boy who was in the way, about a skinny young man who, like Hamlet inscribing his stepfather's villainy on underground, his brain, assembled an encyclopedia of phonyness unparalleled in resume literature. He confided his faith and hope to a nine-hundred-and-fifty-six-page-thick vault, and he gave the grownup world one chance to recognize him. Improvement Process Production? When the for miner world, inevitably, failed this test, he took his talent to the archetypically phony work of corporate P.R., as if to research paper railroad, say, You'll never catch me hoping again. The modern cry of pain became the postmodern bitter joke.
The corporate P.R. work was vile, but at least he was conscious of resume for miner its vileness. Indeed, the essence of postmodernism is an adolescent fear of getting taken in, an school, adolescent conviction that all systems are phony. The theory is compelling, but as a way of life it's a recipe for rage. The child grows enormous but never grows up. I think there's a good story in this. To the extent that I believe it's the story of Gaddis himself, it softens my anger with him, dissolves it in sadness. A Gaddis like this is not remotely a cartoon, and a story like this would never fit into a Simpsons format. A story like this, where the difficulty is the difficulty of life itself, is what a novel is for. Click here to download Gaddis' essay in Adobe PDF format.
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