Showing posts from June, 2020

On "howevering" (series: notes to myself)

"Howevering" is the second shoe dropping, for which you inevitably wait, successfully, in that suspended moment between a "yes..." and the almost inevitable "but...". Most people love  to howeverise  (as Kia says). Philosophers are masters in this. Colleagues and friends sometimes seem unable not to howeverise. Critics are addicted to howeverising. They all agree with you, but only howeverly.  Howevering is a sleight of hand, which retracts what has just been conceded. "Of course, global warming is a life-threatening problem, however...".  Howevering deflects the immediate confrontation of a disagreement, and this seems polite. I do not wish to say you are wrong, but I think you are, and so I dismiss the yes I just uttered to pacify you, to replace it with the however, and show you what the case really is.  Howevering is a license to fill the gap with anything you wish. Once you start howevering, there is no end to the chain of clauses supported,

On being mansplained (series: notes to myself)

I wanted to make a brief point. I thought it was original. But I was too late, it had already been made: mansplaining is gender-neutral . I know because I have had people explaining to me – your average Caucasian, male, middle-aged, European bourgeoisie, in other words, the stereotype of the mansplainer – how to spell my name. But let me hasten to say that, no, my dear, this is not literally, thank you for explaining to me that it cannot be the case. I meant it metaphorically. What puzzles me is how can you be so sure that you are not the one who is not getting it? Please pause for a moment and ask yourself whether "o buraco é mais embaixo", as they say in Brazil, which roughly means that "the hole is further down". And if it looks obvious to you, if you thought about it, why do you assume I did not? In short, next time, if you see me behind you, please do wonder whether I might be almost a whole lap ahead, before explaining to me how to run.

L'intellettuale critico e la bacchetta magica (series: notes to myself)

(Grazie a Arianna Bonino per l'immagine) Leggo (anche se cerco di non farlo) tante interpretazioni e tante critiche della nostra epoca.  Alcune sono strampalate (Agamben) altre esagerate (Klein). Alla fine della lettura mi viene sempre da dire: "BUM!", il che non è un buon segno.  Ma a parte i loro limiti intrinseci (le troppe cose sbagliate o tirate per i capelli che sostengono), mi delude sempre la mancanza di una visione propositiva. È facile fare l'interprete e il critico con le idee altrui (cit.). Come ricordo alle mie studentesse e ai miei studenti, per criticare basta essere smart & sharp (e chi arriva a Oxford in genere lo è) ma per dire qualcosa di propositivo bisogna essere un po' deep  (e su questo Oxford non è necessariamente una garanzia, il sistema sembra privilegiare  s&s ). E le critiche e le interpretazioni in questione non mi risultano deep, solo profondamente superficiali. Non mi danno mai una bella risposta (sulla quale poter anche esse

On the value of taking care of the roses (series: notes to myself)

They say that what matters sometimes is not the outcome but the process: not the success or failure of an action, but just the action itself.  Maybe. But I always thought it was a bit of sour grapes. Didn’t really want beautiful roses in my garden, kind of line of thinking. The important thing was gardening. Or so you tell yourself, trying to be convincing.  But I recite this loudly a few times and it still sounds quite lame. It's the philosopher's fault, because he asks the unpleasant questions. Would you have done it anyway, even if the roses had no chance? But above all, what if the process itself is also pointless? Perhaps the gardening is a failure too, like the dead roses.  So you pause, on your way to the roses, and think: if the outcome is not what matters, and the process is not what matters, why caring for the roses? Better stop, or kill the realist awareness that shows the worthless nature of the whole enterprise.  Is there anything left, if all is a failure?