Can Women Think? A Contemplation and an Invitation

Listen to my talk on the role of women – in society, in philosophy. How can we allow for female thought to have a voice? With an introduction by Professor Hoda Mahmoudi of the University of Maryland. I’m looking forward to your responses, your questions, your support. As the Dutch poet Lucebert once said… all that is valuable is defenseless…

Can women think? What kind of a ridiculous question is that? It is a stupid question, specially if a woman is going to ask it and give an answer, right? Either she cannot think – and whatever she says needs to be dismissed as nonsense. And you don’t even need to listen to me. Or she can think, but then you already know the answer, so why are you reading this?  Continue reading “Can Women Think? A Contemplation and an Invitation”

Prologue to publishing the dissertation

It is because of the inner calling to reach for a new that is unrelated to the present, for that which lies beyond the realm of the possible, that I started out on this path and will continue to do so, in order to search for some form of truth while facing evidence that truth does not exist, to search for meaning in a meaningless world, to search for change in a world that is nothing more than eternal repetition.

At some point you’re ready to start working on it. The publication of what you’ve worked at for so many years. But rereading the prologue, I feel I’m finally ready to part with it. It has taken some time, some distance, it has taken writing another book in the meantime. But I’m ready to look into the long and arduous road of publishing The necessity of the impossible…

Here the prologue for your consideration: (And publishers are welcome, of course!)

“By choosing to write about the desire to reach the impossible and the closely related illusion of change, I have chosen to fail. To fail in life. And synonymously to fail in thinking.

Continue reading “Prologue to publishing the dissertation”

Review: Lost River

Every once in a while you see something that won’t let you go. That stays with you for days in a row. That makes you want to be quiet about. An experience that changes your perspective on (the) world. Something which is perhaps only possible through and because of art. Here an attempt to review, to speak up about one such experience. However impossible.

Continue reading “Review: Lost River”

On Being, a Philosopher

Some time ago I’ve started calling myself ‘philosopher’. Something which is ridiculous, as any nobody could do so. (And unfortunately there are too many nobodies who do just that…) But most people wouldn’t think about labeling themselves ‘philosopher’, perhaps because it is a disgraceful, unproductive profession without economic benefits. Which is true.

But so far, my experience has been rather positive. I’ve not been attacked because of it. I’ve been called one of the French persuasion – which I forgive them, with a slight smile. But no-one has asked me as to why I define myself as such. In the beginning I used to half-jokingly say that being a philosopher is not a protected trade, but I stopped doing that when even that didn’t provoke a response.

Perhaps people are truly uninterested. Which could be a good sign if it would be taken as a general matter, but people do seem to be interested to define my gender, work experience and acquaintance. People are interested in what defines me as being different, and less valuable.

Perhaps it’s only me but when I read a newspaper article written by ‘philosopher’ Eva Jacobs (Volkskrant, 06/02/2014) which is devoid of a single philosophical argument, I get angry. Not because people are not allowed to have ridiculous (feminist) opinions – I live in a country where these are allowed, unfortunately – but because nobody seems to care that the word ‘philosopher’ still means something other than having finished some kind of university education in philosophical subjects. I get angry, and to no avail.

I profess a philosophy that is beyond descriptive practices, that dares to say ‘no’, that chooses the impossible. And I will stand by that, or die trying.

Derrida on response & non-philosophers

Thinking the beyond, the impossible, is the experience of the aporia. This is…

…not necessarily a failure or a simple paralysis, the sterile negativity of the impasse. It is neither stopping at it [the aporia, NdB] nor overcoming it. (When someone suggests to you a solution for escaping an impasse, you can almost be sure that he is ceasing to understand, assuming that he had understood anything up to that point.)

(Derrida, Aporias, p.32.)

Derrida’s response when warned that the piece he was asked to write was meant to be for non-philosophers:

I’m familiar with that warning (…) To whom do you want me to address myself! For centuries now, I have been waiting for statistical arguments on this subject. Does this addressee exist? Does he or she exist before a reading which can also be active and determinant (in the sense that it is only then that the reader would determine himself or herself)?

(Derrida, In: Language (Le Monde on the Telephone))

The Impossibility of an Original Self

There is always already the world with me in it (Heidegger). There is no me without the Other (Levinas). I am a product of my time. Everything I think and do is framed, already framed, in language. If there is a protolanguage, an original structure, this will always remain a mystery for me, as it is always me thinking it.

Nobyeni

Any existentialist conceptions of the Self, a being free of the Other, a being able to choose freely, is merely a product of our time. Existentialism is its own mauvaise foi. Even as a philosopher, how am I to know I am not merely satisfying my human longing, desire, for change, for freedom, existence?

As such all my thinking is fully grounded in today’s world: the illusion of being original. The search for a breaking of this structure, this world, is in vain. The idea of an Event (Badiou), a search for the impossible possible (Derrida), etc etc, is itself a product of our paradigm and as such it is impossible to use it as a starting point for the finding of a possibility for a rupture. And if we do find a break, a rupture, will it mean we have created it ourselves in order to satisfy our own needs? Breaking the world to reach for an original self is only one more perversion that merely re-establishes the present paradigm (Zizek).

But what does this mean? Does it tell us something about the limits of our present paradigm or does it say something about the most fundamental structure of truth and reality?

Or is it the impossibility of originality that makes it valuable above all? And are we to destroy the dichotomy of possible-impossible in order to become?

Presenting the Impossible

Imagine yourself in a conference hall full of scientists and policy makers. Imagine you are a young woman addressing the crowd and telling them that they (including myself) are a part of the problem. That the fact that they are even thinking about the problem, is keeping it alive and preventing change. And that if they truly want radical change, instead of mere modification, it is necessary to take their ego, their ideas, their prejudices out of the equation. That they need to long for the impossible.

And no, I’m not referring to Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, who will also give a lecture at the same conference. (Which I am looking forward to.) I’m talking about me presenting a paper on our shared responsibility towards achieving radical change in greenhouse emission reduction, using Einstein, Badiou, Derrida and Foucaultian perspectives.

Yes, it’s kind of scary, but also a lot of fun. Hopefully.

http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/radical-emission-reduction-conference