Writing. Laughing.

What is the value of writing? Thinking, shared. The ability to think old thoughts again, sharpen them, create a monument for our live thinking that otherwise would exist only as marginal comments to whatever circumstances we’ve concentrated our thoughts on. Systems of thoughts can be dangerous; history is full of examples. See the system of the bible, promoting human superiority (“and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”, Genesis 1:26).

Deconstructive writing, that French fashion that had to be ahead of its time – is not really possible as much as it is necessary today.

I have an intuition about what this life is all about. It has a lot to do with the ability to laugh deeply, genuinely, affirmatively, to laugh in unison with the universe.
The philosophical idea of the universe “observing” itself through humanity as ultimate goal and final act of history in Hegel is, in my view, the ultimate consequence of abstraction running wild. It’s where the doctrine of “everything is connected with everything else” ultimately leads us, pretending to actually have words for everything. Abstraction, and the creation of concepts, has been divorced from the realm of tools and given an ontological quality just because we think it has. Of course, this is not the place for simplistic Hegel-bashing, and you probably need a couple of thick volume to spell out all the consequences and “trap” him like a rat in a cage. Hegel himself famously said that philosophy is the struggle against the primitive abstract thinking of subjectivists. To me, that sounds like a carpenter saying that carpentry is the struggle against the functionality of his tools – saws, hammers, screwdrivers, or words. It makes no sense. Words are abstract. Thoughts, however holistic and all-encompassing and overwhelming they might be, are arrangements of words, subtle interplays made of the elements with which we represent and figuratively “grab” the world. Why are we still bashing the early 19th century protestant think er? Because we can learn a lot from it. From observing his neat system that claims to accommodates the structure of everything we can dream of, and from observing the son of my brilliant bald Hegel professor who had Down’s syndrome (the son, not the professor), I felt this is not my playground. But I still feel the importance of this pivot, or prism, in thinking: the self-relation of our minds.

I said I have an intuition and I feel like being a bit more verbose about it than I usually am. So far what we’ve got is that the self-relation of our minds has to be accommodated in our lives – in our everyday life – by bouts of deep and sincere cosmic laughter, rather than by academimics carving out nifty formulations like Ich=Ich, Id, Es, and a lot of much longer intellectual circumcisions.

What does any of that have to do with why I like writing so much? I feel that our faculty of laughing can benefit from writing and the whole tradition of letters. How? I don’t know of course, that’s because I haven’t done too much of it yet. The laughing somehow lets us fully “be” without the need of that complete grasp of the world. Laughing is, again here’s my intuition speaking so don’t expect much of an explanation, a detour to taking up our humble place in the universe. It is how we can make our scientific and philosophical ignorance bearable.

I have this very sophisticated philosophy in mind, with said form of laughing at its heart, as some sort of sacred entry point of thinking. As a tangible manifestation of self-reflection that as such can be acculturated as a sacred act, an act of reaffirming a fine tradition of thinking that let us admit we don’t understand how history, or the mind, works. That doesn’t need to pretend this in order to “save” its very foundations (Hegel). It would be an open-minded philosophy, indeed anyone who can experience this existential laughter can be a philosopher. And to be a philosopher means to be inquisitive, to have all the answers to the big questions while knowing they are makeshift answers, and above all, to make others laugh.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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