Spinoza - die je toch eens wilt gáán lezen...

Dit is geen recensie, maar een signalement van een boekje waarvan ik het bestaan tegenkwam en waarin Spinoza gelezen zou worden. Daarom heb ik er wat over bij elkaar gegoogled.

Lars Iyer woont en werkt in Newcastle upon Tyne, waar hij Senior Lecturer in filosofie is aan de School of Modern Languages van de Newcastle University in het noordoosten van Engeland. Hij schreef twee boeken over Maurice Blanchot (Blanchot's Communism: Art, Philosophy, Politics en Blanchot's Vigilance: Phenomenology, Literature, Ethics). En sinds enige jaren schrijft hij op zijn webblog spurious.typepad.com. Daaruit heeft hij nu een boek samengesteld: Spurious. Melville House, 2011, 192 pp. 

Een recensent vergeleek het met “Laurel & Hardy at the End of Times.” En volgens de New York Times is de plot van deze “new comic novel: “Two yammering intellectuals ponder life and the fungus taking over one of their homes.”

Kortom, het zou dus een nogal lollig opgezet boek zijn. Wat ik ervan begrijp: schrijver en filosoof Lars Iyer vertelt het verhaal van iemand die het graag over zichzelf heeft en die een goede vriend W. heeft met wie hij reizen onderneemt - vooral op zoek naar licht verteerbare literaire conferenties waar het betere soort jenever geschonken wordt. Deze vriend en fellow philosopher doet behoorlijk geïnteresseerd in God en wiskunde. Ze stellen mekaar in hun ogen allerlei filosofische vragen – regelmatig valt de waarom-vraag  – waaronder merkwaardige vragen, zoals "Do you think it's possible to die of stupidity?" Ze lezen beiden graag Kafka, maar zijn het er over eens dat literatuur je hersenen slap maakt. En ze genieten allebei ook zeer van de schoonheid van Spinoza’s Ethica. Hoewel… zoals op het blog te lezen is, Spinoza vooral literatuur is die je telkens vooral voornemens bent te gáán lezen.

Hier enige Spinoza-staaltjes uit de blogs:

“W. can cook, play guitar, read several languages and converse politely. 'You're the complete humanities academic', I tell him, 'you have a broad personality'. W. finds it funny that I can't do any of these things. 'What do you do all day?' he asks me. Then he tests me on Spinoza: 'what is a substance? what is a mode?' he asks. I tell him I gave up the Ethics. 'It's too hard. I only read about music now'.” [juni 2005]

“I told myself I would read Spinoza this morning, but I picked up the proofs of the book instead. [..]I would like, as Beckett said once, to know how stupid I am. To know and then to be free to write with a new simplicity. But as W. would tell me, you have to read, you have to work. Of course he is right. I brought Spinoza and Leibniz to London with me to read. I've made a little bookshelf in the flat R.M. shares. Spinoza's Ethics, then the Routledge Guide to the Ethics, Leibniz's writings, then the Routledge Guide to the Monadology. And didn't I mean to read the Critique of Practical Reason again? It is a warm day and a kind of boredom passes through me. It does not frustrate me. It is a boredom that asks for waiting, which says: you will not find the plot of today until later. Which says: wait and do nothing, seek nothing.”[juli 2005]

“In truth, very little has happened. I bought Spinoza's Ethics, I said, but it was too hard. I read the introduction to Spinoza's Ethics, I said, and it was too dry. I bought the Routledge Critical Thinkers Guide to Spinoza's Ethics, I said, and it was too vague. I piled up commentaries on Spinoza, I said, Negri's and Deleuze's and others, they were all there before me, I said to H., but nothing, I could barely begin. I phoned W., I said, and asked him how he was getting on. The same, he said. He was writing on Rosenswig, I said to H., and when he was done with Rosensweig, which he was reading in German, he was to begin on Spinoza. In Latin, I asked W., no not in Latin. How are you getting on?” [aug. 2005]

“I am an expert at inanity, everyone knows that. It's my great talent, says W., to be able to generate nonsense and to do so with others. Hours can pass, days, and there's still more inanity to be tapped. How is it possible?, asks W. How do you do it? Whenever he's in my company, says W., he longs for nothing other than to read Spinoza. Spinoza, he says, is your opposite. He longs for nothing else than to pore over Spinoza. All the answers are there he says.” [dec. 2007]

 

Dr Lars Iyer schreef twee boeken over Maurice Blanchot (Blanchot's Communism: Art, Philosophy, Politics and Blanchot's Vigilance: Phenomenology, Literature, Ethics). Enige van zijn teksten zijn op internet te vinden. ‘WRITE, WRITE’: TESTIMONY, JUDAISM AND THE INFINITE IN BLANCHOT, KOFMAN AND LEVINAS [PDF] The Unbearable Trauma and Witnessing in Blanchot and Levinas [PDF]

Our Responsibility: Blanchot’s Communism [PDF]

Aanvulling 11 febr 2011
The A to Z of SPURIOUS: from Mount Batten to Tohu Vavohu.
Daarin over:

Spinoza, Baruch, 1632-1677

Rationalist philosopher, famed for his claim that nature is an indivisible, uncaused substantial whole identical to God. For Spinoza, talk of God’s purposes, intentions, aims or goals is anthropomorphising; rather, everything which exists is brought into being with necessity by nature. In his masterpiece, the Ethics, Spinoza argues that human happiness depends upon the life of reason, as distinct from the ephemeral goods we normally pursue. Our main good, Spinoza argues, is the difficult to attain knowledge of God – of nature in its entirety. It is this knowledge which allows us to experience part of the infinite love that God/nature has for itself: in short, beatitude.