Thursday, November 18, 2004

After Auschwitz

It seems to me that Adorno is quite confused; however, there is a bit more than that to it.
[Before I begin, please don't accept my opinions as fact, this is only what I got from the reading]
From what I know, before WWII philosophy was beginning to focus on the betterment of society as a whole instead of finding truth. The idea of finding happiness via truth had degredaded into finding happiness, and then finally for everyone to be a happy as possible within a society. This last, utilitarian point, was at a hight of acceptance and analization before WWII, and was a favorite of Hilter in the form of Nietzsche, of course all of this is extreme over simplication.
Anyway, after WWII occured and so much unhappiness ensued, the ideas of existentialism and logotherapy took hold very quickly.
It seems as if Adorno is taking issue with the idea of existentialism vs. a more thought based philosophy because he sees neither as providing real meaning to anyones life after WWII. On the one hand he seems to claim that philosophy is just a means of escape and yet on the other hand looking at things as they really are provides a person with no explanations whatsoever.
I say Adorno seems confused because he provides no real epistomology of his own, much like Descartes in his first discourse in which he concludes that one can only know that one exists and nothing more.
Adorno is reaching for a way for people to escape from guilt without really escaping it, yet he cannot conclude that one can look at the facts as they are and conclude that everything works out logically.
Where do you suppose Adorno is going with this, would he accept any form of philosophy or not?
Should philosophy be used as a form of absolving oneself, as is logotherapy?
Can truth be found by facts, what does Adorno think?
Can evil mass murder be reconciled with the guilt of some victims who survived?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Foucoult Article

Some more questions:
1. What advancements in thought led to the evolution in punishment "from being an art of unbearable sensations" to "an economy of suspended rights?" (11). In other words, what ideologies must change in order to alter the way one thinks about the administration of effective punishment?

2. Do you agree with Foucoult's statement, "power produces knowledge," as opposed to the idea that knowledge can only be achieved above the confines of the power system? Assuming that he is correct, what sort of implications for the current and future state of the different classes of society does this statement reveal?

3. Which, in your opinion, is more harmful to a human: the simple, physical invasion of the body that characterizes the methods of punismhments of 200 years ago, or the more indirect attacks upon the liberties of the soul that characterize modern day penal systems?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Questions regarding Foucault

Some questions to consider for discussion on Tuesday night:

1. Foucault is highly invested in the concept of "genealogy," that is, tracing a political and historical trajectory of a particular idea, in this case, punishment and its connections to power relations. That being said, what do you see as useful in the concept of a genealogy? We tend to associate genealogy with tracing familial relations. Is there a way to transfer the notion of interrelatedness into other realms of thought? And to what end? In other words, why is it necessary to analyze the concept of power structures through the history of punishment?

2. Foucault argues late in his essay, "But let there be no misunderstanding: it is not that a real man, the object of knowledge, philosophical reflection or technical intervention, has been substituted for the soul, the illusion of the theologians. The man described for us, whom we are invited to free, is already himself the effect of a subjection much more profound than himself. A 'soul' inhabits him and brings him into existence, which is itself a factor in the mastery that power exercises over the body. The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body" (30). According to this statement, what is the soul? And what is its relationship to the body? How does this effect the ways in which we are to begin analysing the uses and transformation of different forms of punishment?

3. Is there something perversely compelling about torture? What I mean is, what exactly makes torture and public punishment the "spectacle" that Foucault desribes? What is the role of the audience in producing this spectacle?

4. As Foucault asks on p. 16, "what would a non-corporal punishment be?"

5. How does the contemporary call for prison reform (by 49% of the American population) work into the Foucault's genealogy? Why the cry for reform and humanism, rehabilitation instead of punishment?

that's all.
See you tomorrow,

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bomb the Suburbs

"Let's celebrate the ghetto and the few people who aren't running away from it..."
This is is defnitely one of the more ridiculous statements I have read in a while. Upski is extremely close minded and, I believe, a hardcore racist. He believes that suburbanites are the cause of the "ghetto." Yet how many people grew up poor in the "city" and worked their way out of it. He seems to put a positive label on being poor, as if lack of wealth is the only contributing factor to being down to earth. While it is true that some poorer people have a better grasp on the important things in life, it is unfair to claim that anyone living outside of the city is so caught up in their suburban life that they are incapable of having real feelings.
The piece which mocks the two boys who go to Atlanta is ridiculous as well. The boys make it pretty clear that the reason they dressed up as they did was because they admired that certain culture. However, Sabrina Williams seems to think that only African-Americans are worthy of dressing that certain way, even walking that certain way. It seems to me that Williams is the one contributing to the "problems of the ghetto." By isolating a certain lifestyle to just one ethnicity, she only makes her culture stand out more than before.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

bomb the suburbs

Upski is a racist, an upper middle class wigger, and an admirer of black culture all at the same time. Is he credible? Do you think he's a b-boy because he's rebelling against our economically and racially segregated society or because he's trying to elevate himself above other white people--or both? And why do white kids in Montana become wiggers?
Upski writes of a "moral debt" he owes to the black community. How can that ever be repaid? Does he imply that it can be or not?
One of his points is clear: Americans (whites especially, but also possibly suburban blacks?) need to stop avoiding the reality that we are perpetuating inequality. And one way to bring this fact home is to literally bring it home to the suburbs--through graffiti, for example.
Are any of you from the suburbs? I'm from elgin, outside of chicago (a place with a lot of hispanic immigrants and issues) and I lived in Rogers Park in Chicago last year--the most ethnically diverse place in the country besides the Bronx. (Do I sound like I'm elevating myself?) And now, coming here to Madison, I see some similarites in our campus and the suburbs (remember, Upski writes of the suburbs literally and metaphorically). This university IS overwhelmingly white--do WE avoid reality? I read somewhere that Dane County imprisonates more black people in proportion to whites than the state and country average. just something to consider...
so much to talk about on this reading...sorry so long...but i think there's still more left out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Help with non-- 201 Paper?

Hi... this isn't actually related to this class, but this is a composition class-- so maybe it kind of is... anyways: I'm doing research with Professor Koshar this semester for Hist 600 relating to cars, in particular: Safety Legislation of the 1950s in Great Britain. As I am sure you can imagine it is quite exciting... I'm looking at/analyzing group responses to such legistlation in the Autocar magazine (its a car mag in Britain). Blah- anyways currently my paper discusses the reaction of different age and economic groups to the increasing severity and complexity of such safety laws during the time. I AM REALLY AFRAID - my professor is going to fall asleep reading my paper... I do. SO I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to "spice" my paper up. (I can't include accidents because that is another student's) Thanks so much! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :)