10 May

cixous-blog Helene Cixous

“I want to use this word: Justice. We do not think with justice. The world is not just. The  world-wide non-justice that we all know politically has spread all the way to our imaginations. It goes so far that we are not just with the earth, with the stars, with ground, with blood, with skin. In advance, and without our even being informed, everything is already ordered-classed according to a scale which gives primacy to one element over another. And power to one thing, or to one being over another. All the time. And in an unfounded manner.

So when I write…in the course of the writing, I am already in the process of shaking this all up. So that what is at the top stops being at the top by believing itself to be at the top; not so as to make the top fall towards the bottom, but so that the bottom has the same prestige, that it be restored to us with its treasures, with its beauties.

The other in all his or her forms gives me I. It is on the occasion of the other that I catch sight of me; or that I catch me at: reacting, choosing, refusing, accepting. It is the other who makes my portrait. Always. And luckily. The other is of all sorts, is also of diverse richness. The more the other is rich, the more I am rich. The other, rich, will make his or her richness resonate in me and enrich me. This is what people do not know in general, and it’s too bad…

Quint Buchholz

The world is mistaken. It imagines that the other takes something from us whereas the other only brings to us, all the time. The other is complex. He can be our enemy, and our friend. Our enemy is not necessarily bad. Our enemy also teaches us something. He does not necessarily teach us hate. He makes a sort of mysterious map of all our points of vulnerability appear.  He does not only teach us to defend ourselves. He teaches us to grow: because there are many possibilities to work with the enemy, when he is not death itself.”

Hélène Cixous. Rootprints.

82 Responses to “Justice”

  1. Garpal Gumnut May 10, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Thanks Jennifer, Cixous certainly transcends language in a disarmingly subversive way. I haven’t read anything of hers for some years. thanks.


  2. doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    The “other” is everything that is not “I” according to that excerpt. One way of looking at it, I suppose. The other can be our enemy and our friend?

    I think I have to agree with Derrida that something is lost in the translation from the French; it does not impress me to any great degree.

    As for justice, I like this version :

    Justice is revenge for those who have power;
    Terrorism is revenge for those who have not.


    • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      I would caution against ever putting justice and revenge in the same sentence.


      • doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

        Revenge is what is really wanted by those who cry “Justice”.

        Justice is revenge. Fair and square,


        • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

          Justice is a far bigger concept than revenge. It involves the morality and ethics that govern our actions in life and in society using principles like fairness and reciprocity.

          Revenge is just a pale imitation that has to do with notions of payback and primitive visceral permission to hate those who may have transgressed against you.

          I hardly find them even comparable.


  3. hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    What a deeply thoughtful treasure of a piece of writing. Thanks Jennifer.

    I think GG is right to describe her style as subversive, but in a way I think we should celebrate and embrace rather than be wary of as we are with other kinds of subversion.

    But she’s also incredibly gentle and deft in her handling of her subject matter. Bringing in the “other” was so necessary to complete the picture and make something that is so capable of being completely rationalised feel like an emotional response in a way that strikes me as being one of the cleverest efforts in closing the gap between the two that I’ve encountered.


    • doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      Closing what gap?


      • doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

        Between which two?


      • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

        The gap between emotion and rationality that is scientifically best explained by things like theories decision making based on neuroscience.

        We’ve got plenty of rational language for some of these things but unless they’re properly linked we overlook emotional accounts as mere hearsay rather than real evidence of anything. I think there should be more regard for them as normative accounts of subjective phenomena that deserve to be studied seriously by science.


        • doug quixote May 11, 2013 at 8:40 am #

          The gap between “the other” and “the I” – the extrinsic and the intrinsic surely?

          Though her language is obtuse and vague enough to allow interpretations. Either way it is bullshit, as I said below. Very well cooked and well presented, but still bullshit.

          She seems to think Justice can be used to include things like equalisation and egality, that all things are one and on the same level, that that is “just”. Perhaps that is arguable : that a bacteria is the equal of an Einstein or a Mandela, and perhaps they are, but I doubt that is “Justice” under any definition!


          • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

            Yes it can be interpreted as a gap between intrinsic and extrinsic, or a gap between rational and emotional thoughts. But since through her we’ve developed the conversation into being about closing those gaps then there’s a challenge to somebody like yourself in particular here to try and grasp what it means to appreciate an other’s thoughts without relying upon your intrinsic emotional confirmation of their veracity. It means to rationalise a statement that the other person makes has value even if you’re not drawn to accepting that another person who is different from you isn’t merely talking “bullshit”.


    • Garpal Gumnut May 11, 2013 at 8:01 am #

      Perceptive comments hg, the Cixous’ passages that Jennifer has posted reminded me of the thoughts of Viktor Frankl and his way of dealing with a pseudo-rational totalitarian other. The concept of closing the gap has given me a better understanding of Frankl’s philosophy and psychology.


      • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        I know of Frankl, but not very much. I gather he dealt with a bunch of pseudo-rational totalitarians known as the Nazis, to his considerable cost. Anyone would struggle to understand that. It is admirable that he tried to do so in a way that seems to have intended to restore rationality as one of the means towards rejecting and preventing recurrence of the kinds of events he witnessed and which it must be said do seem to be pathological on a grand scale. It concerns me to think about that when at the same time there’s a credible case to be made that many of our leaders even today display a marked tendency towards psychopathy. This makes me wonder if we’re once again ignoring the pathology of antisocial behaviour to our great cost.

        But then I haven’t read Frankl in such depth as to draw the same comparisons that you’re making and so don’t know that they’re accurate.


  4. samjandwich May 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Yeah… I’d like to imagine that people are slightly less absorptive, and vulnerable, and inert, and dependent than this passage would suggest. it seems to me that living a thoughtful life is all that’s required to emancipate yourself from the the haphazard nature of an existence shaped by outside influences.

    Though I’ll grant it’s quite likely I’m significantly further along the autism spectrum than most people…


    • samjandwich May 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      Actually here we go: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

      I score 24, which makes me just a standard deviant I guess. Anyone else?


      • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

        Interesting test. I’m about normal but I won’t start trading scores because then everyone gets distracted from the article and the issue at hand by something that I think is really only peripherally relevant.

        To you earlier post I’d add the observation that living thoughtfully in some ways seems like a privilege than can only be obtained once one achieves a certain amount of emancipation from an existence shaped by outside influences. A typical example might be mothers of young childrens’ lament that they don’t even have time to think!


        • samjandwich May 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

          That’s interesting: where is the responsibility/justice for people who have chosen to do something, only to find that it has drawbacks they couldn’t have anticipated?

          i don’t think living thoughtfully precludes your participation in the mainstream. If you really truly have genuinely considered all options in a self-conscious way, and yet can think of nothing you’d prefer to eat than MacDonalds, then go nuts I say! In fact, maybe for such a person eating MacDonalds is the equivalent of what writing is to Helen C?


          • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

            I don’t know that justice is always possible, nor guaranteed for any of us. We may take Helene’s lead in feeling that it ought to be and perhaps aspiring to expand it though any number of chosen methods, but at the end of the day the reality of injustice still intrudes. Perhaps justice cannot exist without injustice, so that if you just want to say that living thoughtfully is as good a way for maintaining some kind of balance as any then I’d willingly concede that point.


        • doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

          I came up with 11, hardly surprising I suppose?


          • hudsongodfrey May 10, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

            I scored even lower than you, and I thought that I’d be above the average, because I think I may have been regarded as such as a child.


            • doug quixote May 11, 2013 at 8:28 am #

              I would think only extreme extroverts would score in single figures; some questions for example “would you rather go to a library than the football” (or some such thing) are a question of taste, and a score of 7 or better would put one in the manic bogan class!

              Did you say you scored 5 HG? 🙂


              • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

                We’re much closer in scores than that. But what are you fishing for? Why let the silly test become such a distraction for you?


                • doug quixote May 11, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

                  Just joking! The serious point is that these tests, surveys etc are indeed silly, a matter of amusement only.

                  A distraction? From what? I’ve made my point, in reaction to those who think the passage contains something deep and meaningful. I don’t.


                  • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

                    Both tests that deliver knowledge in the form of data and passages that attempt distil it into words of wisdom have their place. So if you just want to say that they belong in different contexts then I’ll agree with you, whereas to be seeming to say that there is no possible use for either seems too dismissive by far.


                    • doug quixote May 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

                      “No possible use” is to put words in my mouth, or to create a straw man.

                      They each have their uses, of course they do and of course the contexts are vastly different (how the hell did we get into this argument, HG? Stop it!)

                      There must be sensible things to discuss: who is your favourite philosopher, since this thread is regarding Cixous and philosophy?


                    • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

                      Now Doug, that’s very naughty of you to create a red herring by accusing me of creating a straw man. If you want to refute my remarks then by all means explain the difference between the phrase “no possible use” that I used rather than the term you supplied which was “bullshit”. Do so without tritely referring to worn out jokes about the many uses of fertilizer if you can. Otherwise it’s a lame deflection and I’ve seen it before a million times. We may have a debate if you wish about which of us has suffered more at the hands of dickheads who refer to everything that is said that they simple disagree with as either a “straw man” or a “fallacy”. No they’re not! They’re matters of opinion one needs to refute with a proper rebuttal.

                      I get it. We disagree about the merits of the article.

                      As for favourite philosophers; Geez Doug I’m not sure if it’s Wittgenstein or not because I really don’t understand half of what he tried to say, but I like a thinker who challenges me rather than a hero figure, and many who do that challenge us with the most unlikeable ideas imaginable. I don’t know if favouritism comes into it. If pressed I think the point of reading and exploring knowledge is examine and enrich one’s life so that makes my favourite philosopher… me. Not that I’ve the kind of tickets on myself that qualify me to be called a philosopher by others, I’m more of your stand-up philosopher in the Mel Brooks mould.


                    • doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

                      Let’s continue this down below; I feel a major post coming on. 🙂


  5. helvityni May 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    ” Our enemy also teaches us something. He does not necessarily teach us hate.”

    I like that. We all want justice, but I don’t think it necessarily means that the other should be punished, hopefully rehabilitated, or if that is not possible then kept away from others, maybe sent to a distant island where they can only harm themselves or other bad people 🙂

    Forgiving, even it only means forgetting, is always better than keeping the hate alive, and the relationship with the hater ongoing.

    Helene Cixous is beautiful in that austere and sophisticated fashion of French intellectuals…


  6. doug quixote May 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    Beg to differ. It is bullshit; beautifully cooked and well served on a golden platter.

    But still bullshit.


    • helvityni May 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

      You might be right, DQ, but I have found that if I can put the nasty ones out my mind, I’m better served, I can regain my equilibrium.

      The Buddhist meditations can be helpful here… 🙂


  7. Marilyn May 11, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    Friday night on SBS returned to Docos, the things that make my blood spin around my body.

    The beautiful, sad unknown story of Princess Alice and the shocking way she was treated by her family and then Cassino, 9 months in hell – not of jot of justice for those in Cassino sacrificed by Churchill and Roosevelt for no reason at all and certainly no justice for poor slightly mad Princess Alice.

    Then I saw the news with Gillard signing a dirty racist deal to build an illegal prison in PNG while still denying visas to most citizens of PNG and in spite of our own high court and every legal body in the world telling her that she has no right to jail refugees here let alone in any other country.

    She does these things Doug in full awareness that she is torturing the innocent and she simply does not care.


    • Marilyn May 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Even when Alzheimer’s had stolen her ability to know who we were, my mother could still surprise and delight when those pesky brain messages got it right. On a visit towards the end, as we walked into the sitting room full of elderly residents, she called out suddenly to all “look here are my darling girls.” Her love for the four of us endured even when she no longer knew us by name. As my brother said her “thinking” brain had gone but her “feeling” brain stayed. A mother’s love is a mighty powerful force.

      This past week I have met mothers who have demonstrated this powerful love for their children by making decisions and taking risks which saved their lives. They will not be getting flowers and breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day in the Broadmeadows camp but they have surely earned the love and respect of their children. Sara, a woman from Syria took her three children from the relentless bombing in Damascus across the world to safety. With her younger sister and her father she hid in rooms in Indonesia for months with her baby, four year old boy and six year old daughter who has severe autism and cannot speak.

      They travelled by boat for three days and three nights through rough seas sitting up in a tiny fishing boat to Christmas Island. The children vomited continually and the little girl was confused and terrorised by the boat and the dark seas. Any Australian parent of a child with autism can imagine how hard it was for this young mother to keep her safe and comforted in a crowded boat. Now they are living in a donga (demountable caravan) in the detention camp at Broadmeadows with 220 other families hoping for release. Between a waking baby and a terrified autistic child this young mother has little sleep but her love for her children keeps her going.

      Another mother made this journey by boat alone with her eight children aged from 18 years to 18 months and her frail eighty year old mother. Having fled the brutal persecution of the Taliban in Afghanistan, this mother has waited in Indonesia for ten years after fleeing Afghanistan. Five years ago the family was finally processed by UNHCR in Indonesia and recognised as refugees. They have been waiting for five years for resettlement. When her husband went missing she decided that she had to take her children from this precarious life where they had no future, no chance of schooling or a country to call home.

      These are heroic women putting the lives of their children above all else and taking decisions not for the faint hearted. With no safe places to hide in their own countries they set off in search of safety and security. Sara and her family made it out of Syria just before the airport was closed. Australia only accepts refugees referred by UNHCR. As Palestinians they have no right to UNHCR access. Therefore they are not considered for resettlement even though their position in Syria is beyond desperate. With her mother and sister already in Australia it was the only choice they had to make a run for it.

      There are no safe camps between Syria or Afghanistan and Australia for people to wait for an invitation. Hazaras who have fled Afghanistan to Quetta are being bombed and gunned down on the streets. Those who waited in Indonesia for the Australian Embassy to offer resettlement have waited in vain. Only 266 visas have been issued since August 13 last year when the “No Advantage” policy was introduced. Nineteen hundred Refugees are waiting for resettlement, with their positive Refugee determination from UNHCR. Others are no longer even trying to get a token from UNHCR for an interview.

      As we think with love and care of our own mothers, let us not forget those many mothers in camps across Australia and offshore places whose children depend for survival on their strength and endurance. These mothers have no luxuries, dressed as they are in camp clothes, lining up for unfamiliar canteen food and trying to encourage their children to eat the same meals day after day. Their courage and gutsy determination has got them to safety in Australia but insecurity and uncertainty, living in camps with children is no mother’s paradise.

      Now Doug, there are two women and their kids who will rot in the streets of Australia for years on end trying to feed and clothe their kids on next to nothing just to appease Gillard’s innate racist nature.

      So much for her great feminist streak.


      • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

        The thing that I am most appalled about out of all this is that they’re still refusing to issue visas to resettle refugees from Indonesia. We increased the number of placements by 6,000 I had hoped for that very purpose. Doing so would have helped to stop boat trips for at least that number of people from being necessary. The stupidity of this decision can only be explained by our terribly xenophobic and heart hearted attitudes and is something I for one find completely inexcusable.


        • Garpal Gumnut May 11, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

          I can understand your concern, hg, but do not share it. It depends on your view, and how wide it is. The push factors are uncontrollable, and I see no reason to have an open border policy to accommodate this, as I have argued in another post. As a corollary, imagine the concerns of an Indigenous Australian, having their country, already unrecognisable after 200 years of settlement, it’s migrant rulers and and descendants, and a pro-migration politically powerful minority pre-occupied with further migration and dilution of their numbers and culture.


          • Marilyn May 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

            Well we have hundreds of thousands of others from the same countries here gumnut.

            And we have an open border law for asylum seekers, just imagine if we were Jordan with 1.2 million Palestinians, 500,000 Iraqis and now 500,000 Syrians while we continue to abuse and torture women and kids.

            My grandfather did not spend 6 years in WW11 so we can jail babies today.


            • Garpal Gumnut May 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

              Thanks lyn, I’m unsure what your argument is. I do not think any of us who have served overseas in the ADF, nor your grandfather would have done so to torture babies. Thus I can only agree in the absence of further information. Australia is a beacon of fairness and tolerance in a dangerous part of the world for those dispossessed. It does have borders though, as I would believe your grandfather does or would have believed.


              • Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 1:26 am #

                We do not have any borders. WE are surrounded by oceans on every side.

                And as people are allowed to sail anywhere they like on those oceans why the hell do you keep arguing that we have frigging borders?


                • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 11:17 am #

                  In the absence of land borders we have territorial waters extending 12 nautical miles from the low water mark at the coast, and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles after which vessels are considered to truly be in international waters. The fact that people confuse the territorial claim with the economic one is an oversight. The fact that we use the term borders to describe the limits of our territory is perhaps more understandable.

                  The concept of crossing a border at any airport for immigration and customs purposes will also be a familiar one that doesn’t strictly rely upon runways straddling the boundaries between abutting nations.

                  I think that we can have a genuine objection to freeloading behaviour that precludes economic migration on an ad hoc basis without prejudicing genuine refugees. We stop backpackers from overstaying their visas or people working here without the correct permissions because we’re entitled to. Similarly whenever we deny a non genuine claim for asylum then some other more worthy soul gets to advance their claim. So I don’t think we should technically rankle at the notion of Australia having borders.

                  What I do think we’re apt to take exception to is people who use the term “Border Security” as code for the xenophobic view that assumes privilege in the world should be determined by the accident of our birth.

                  It is and has become increasingly difficult to believe that many of the people who seem so overeager to deny a particular group of some several thousand people stuck in Indonesia and likely in their frustration to risk their lives at sea would be similarly disposed to build concentration camps as a deterrent were these people of British origin or descent.


                  • Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

                    We still have no right to stop anyone in the 12 nm zone as it is a free and legal right tor anyone to sail there.

                    And why claim they are risking their lives as if the ocean kills more than those who die on land?

                    Every refugee who ever drowned on the way here could have been saved if we had wanted to save them but we chose not to.

                    And last year a couple of hundred refugees drowned but 8 million kids under 5 died on land.


                    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

                      Yes there’s a right to claim asylum that would allow people to cross into territorial waters for that purpose. Beyond that we may have a right to stop the vessel for quarantine reasons if somebody wants to get technical.

                      As for your well enough made point that there are risks on land I think its obvious that we have to assess that on the facts at the time. Sea journeys are a known risk, other health risks for the particular group I was concerned with being stuck in Indonesia may be simply be less clear. So while I certainly think we have chosen quite inexplicably not to help this particular group of people I also think that inaction contributes to their decision to board the kinds of vessels that put them in more immediate danger.

                      I don’t know what exactly you’re proposing to do about the 8 million kids who died on land last year, or even where that statistic comes from. It could for all I know be inclusive of all cot deaths in the Western Hemisphere.


          • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

            Where the corollary dies a death though is in that when we arrived here we reasonably quickly outnumbered and overpowered the indigenous population. You simply can’t call a few thousand souls seeking asylum among a nation of 23 Million and arriving with no weapons much less anything else anything like the same kind of overpowering threat.


            • Garpal Gumnut May 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

              Thanks hg, My argument is that it is not merely a couple of thousand souls, and from lyn’s example perhaps numbering in the hundreds of thousands should we not have secure borders. The arrival of one person with a weapon may be a threat, no less than an undefinable number without.


              • hudsongodfrey May 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

                I don’t agree in the least with the hyperbole about numbers greater than actually exist, but I’ll address myself to why this is a failure not only in terms of my ideals or Marilyn’s but in terms of the policy that was put in place drawing on the Houston report. This was as you may know a report in response (knee jerk or otherwise) to a spate of deaths of people in boats at sea. The basic idea was a no advantage policy, not necessarily a cruel kind of deterrent that says anyone who comes here can virtually “f**k off we’re full”, which is damned near the way the way it seems to have been implemented.

                When we send the message that there is supposed to be no advantage in coming by boat then there HAS to be some advantage in NOT coming by boat. That means we have to be willing to take more than 266. So, regardless of whether you believe in quotas or what you think of the numbers involved, there was a change in policy raising the number by 6,000 from 14,000 to 20,000 places in the migration/resettlement programs per annum. It is clearly implicit in this that we needed to address the idea that there might be a queue or not by setting one up and placing it in Indonesia.

                We can be clear that the numbers of UNHCR recognised refugees within Indonesia are less than 6,000 and those exceeding those numbers who haven’t been processed by UNHCR may be as many as that again. Some have been there for ten years or more. We’ve been taking in comparatively small numbers of boat people so as to make it possible to say that people arriving in those camps are not being replenished so rapidly as to swell the camps that are within striking distance of Australia at some wildly exponential rate evocative of some Yellow Peril like scenario.

                We could if we chose work to process those people and sort this problem out, manageably and humanely. We have done so in the past as recently as when Fraser interceded with bipartisan support to help out Indochinese refugees. I am glad that we still are a country with a humanitarian agenda. The only thing I can see having changed about the way we go about it has been the effect of Pauline Hanson and the subsequent race to the bottom that started. What is desperately needed to rescue what’s left of our dignity is to stop the dog whistling and actually implement our own humanitarian policies.

                I argued at the time that I didn’t like our government returning like a dog to its own vomit by reopening Manus and Nauru, but that if we actually took the 6,000 then maybe we wouldn’t have to use them. I’m absolutely disgusted with what I saw on Four Corners the other week instead. I had thought that if any nation on earth was going to operate an actual concentration camp in this day and age that it would never be us. It makes me ashamed to be Australian.


                • Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 1:28 am #

                  WE have a whole string of concentration camps though. And we don’t have a quota for asylum seekers, we can’t because anyone has the right to seek asylum.

                  It’s a deranged fiction of control.


                  • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 10:53 am #

                    I agree that the whole thing is conflicted and internally contradictory, but the budgeted allowances we make on an annual basis do exist and we seem to stick to them when you look at the figures over the years.

                    If you don’t want to call them quotas because our international obligations include no such concept then I guess you’re more than entitled to that view, but in general Australians are unwilling to accept that the number of people who we’re open to extending a humanitarian welcome to is infinite.

                    I’m simply arguing that we don’t have as great an obligation to scour the world for refugees as we do to save those who would press their claim for asylum by risking their lives at sea.


                    • Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

                      It’s not my view, it is a fact. WE can have a quota of those with no entitlement under any treaty to come here and we use that as a battering ram to pretend we are living up to our obligations even though we have no such obligation and never have.

                      And your last paragraph is the truth of the matter.

                      And we don’t have a budget for asylum seekers because we never know who will turn up.

                      Do you think Jordan has a budget it can stick to with 4,000 refugees a day arriving.


                    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

                      I know what you’re getting at Marilyn but since I gather that funds are allocated to functions such as immigration and DFAT then when they place an estimate on the numbers of refugees we intend to take per year and drawing upon asylum seekers and resettlement places manage to fill it within a few dozen of a given target year upon year we are effectively setting something very like a quota.

                      Sure it is in direct conflict with the UN refugee conventions we’re signatories to, but in practical terms we’re doing it anyway, and it’s not the only transgression we’re making either.

                      Your point about Jordan though is a telling one though I’m not sure that the provisions they’re currently making amount to permanent resettlement either. They need help and I’d be making the point that maybe we don’t have to wait until people trickle down to Indonesian shores before we venture some greater level of humanitarian support there.


  8. doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Let’s continue this down below; I feel a major post coming on. 🙂


    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Okay whenever you’re ready.


  9. doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Wittgenstein, eh? Whilst refreshing my acquaintance with W, I turned up this gem :

    “Existence cannot be subject to “creation” AND also be eternal. All experiments favor eternal, as does the Law of Conservation of Matter and Energy. Arguing “creation” goes against the accepted definition of time as a statistic. One can talk of a unit for matter, like an atom or apple, and quantify how much potential and kinetic energy it has, but space and time have no unit – no identity.”

    Now some may argue that this is semantic, but the ontological referrers are there to construct one of my favourite hobby horses, the non-existence of a deity – to call it God makes it an object and muddies the discussion, but circumlocutions are of dubious value.

    One could go with the anti-realists and solipsists and say that nothing exists outside the mind. Perhaps everything – including even you HG – is a figment of my imagination. ??

    But I doubt it, and even Cixous has a concept of the other, bullshit though most of it may be 🙂

    As an aside the conspiracy theorists would have a field day with Wittgenstein : Jewish, family fabulously wealthy, went to the same school at the same time as Hitler (and probably knew the little bugger), a star pupil who outshone Bertrand Russell, it goes on!

    Back to philosophy, are philosophical problems real, or are they merely linguistic puzzles – Wittgenstein would apparently argue the latter, and argued it vigorously with Popper, Russell looking on.

    As W studied the history of philosophy he was quoted : “[h]e expresses the most naive surprise that all the philosophers he once worshipped in ignorance are after all stupid and dishonest and make disgusting mistakes!”

    To paraphrase him, the central problem of philosophy is “What can be expressed by language (thought), and what cannot, but can only be shown.” The limits of language are the limits of thought. Much of philosophy involves attempts to say the unsayable: “what can we say at all can be said clearly”, he argues. Anything beyond that—religion, ethics, aesthetics, the mystical—cannot be discussed. They are not in themselves nonsensical, but any statement about them must be.

    Not sure I agree, but interesting, is it not?

    I like this passage best :

    “Philosophical problems are bewitchments that arise from philosophers’ misguided attempts to consider the meaning of words independently of their context, usage, and grammar, what he called “language gone on holiday” ”

    Perhaps you are right HG to avow that your favourite philosopher is you! I think I agree with you, in that my favourite philosopher is me. 🙂

    Your thoughts, HG and Jennifer?


    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Okay already, thanks for your patience I had social events to attend because it was mothers’ day.

      Your first Wittgenstein quote reminds me a little of the omnipotence paradox which has inspired so much apologetics over the journey. I agree with his conclusions even while noting that this seems to matter not one jot to religionists, and why would it indeed?

      When it comes to ontological religious arguments I think the more interesting thing to note is that there being so many different religious narratives and interpretations thereof to choose from the lack of consistency about something supposed to inspire such certainty in believers is simply astounding. I’m happy to frankly admit that if science is willing to stop short on closing the door on uncertainty when it comes to knowledge of those events they regard as so critical then I’m certainly willing to admit that I don’t know either.

      What I really don’t get is that supposing that it is a good idea to suppose that there might be a deity you don’t having gone to all the trouble to rationalise what amounts to Deism only to completely jettison your rationality and leap into either metaphysics or theology. Maybe that’s the problem you’re also having with the kind of philosophy that takes a metaphysical bent.

      I find it patently ridiculous that many philosophers before and since Hume (unwittingly or otherwise) have struggled to defend the territory he defined in saying you can’t get an ought from an is. Whereas in their pursuit of metaphysics they’re virtually committing the inverse fallacy of trying to derive an is from an ought. It is indeed sometimes beyond what the limits of our linguistic abilities find us capable of expressing. A fact that has oft been noted.

      I think that when it comes to asking where good and evil come from that if I’m willing to plead ignorance in relation to the moments leading up to the big bang then I might at least be afforded some respect for the intellectual honesty of saying that these things just are and we don’t know or much need to know how they came into being. I find it striking that they need some higher authority for good and evil, but not for other matters that are rigidly inherent in our universe and yet completely conceptually derived such as mathematics is. Could it simply be that the bulk of mathematics was discovered long after our various religious scriptures were penned, edited and deemed immutable?

      So that brings me to that point of saying that think Cixous concepts of “self” versus “other” may be similarly validated by some normative view of how things rationally seem to be in the world. Take them away and we slip back into taking Socrates certainty of the fact of his own ignorance that one step further than is useful to us. The business of being a figment of somebody else’s imagination allows me to disregard them if only at the expense of sacrificing my own ego more than I’m prepared to do. I don’t want to be quite that pointless.

      So… Coming back down to earth for the moment, on reflection though not strictly a philosopher I can heartily recommend a good read of Stephen Pinker’s work if you’re interested in thinking about what it might mean to live an examined life in a thoroughly modern and relevant context. 🙂


      • doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

        Pinker’s work is interesting; we must hope it is accurate, and not merely wishful thinking or a misinterpretation of a brief interval of sanity.

        More to come . . . and thank you for the intelligent reply.

        Jennifer, have you some further thoughts – I hope I didn’t upset you by my references to Cixous!


  10. Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm #


    Hudson, this will be worth listening to.

    And the 8 million kids under 5 who died on land last year were not the kids who died of cot death.

    They are the 25% of all live births in Afghanistan who die before they are 5, the 48,000 extra kids who die from gastro, the millions who die from preventable measles and malaria and the figures are from UNICEF.


    • Garpal Gumnut May 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

      I’ll probably get my arse kicked for this by you lyn and the usual suspects, however I fail to see how the West including Australia can be held in any way responsible for the atrocious maternal and childhood mortality and morbidity statistics in Afghanistan which preceded the ADF involvement in that country. Their religious and cultural mates in closer geographically countries richer than Australia such as Saudi Arabia Gulf States and Iran couldn’t really give a stuff. Because we believe in the fair go are we responsible for and have a duty to accept the tab for every fubar situation worldwide?


      • helvityni May 12, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

        You’d like Abbott as Australia’s PM and you speak of fair go..

        Without compassion for our own poor, for the desperate asylum seekers, for starving children of Africa, we are not fully human beings


      • Marilyn May 12, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

        I have never been called lyn in my life and I don’t like it. And we have cut aid to build illegal refugee prisons so that more children will starve to death.


        • Garpal Gumnut May 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

          Thanks Marilyn, and I have never been called gumnut in lower case, prior to a post of yours preceding, and thus the commencement of my calling you lyn.
          I assumed from you calling me by the latter half of my name in lower case that I had license to call you by the later syllable of your name in a similar case.
          I apologise and will not do it again.
          As per hg, you can call me gg, or Garpal, I prefer the former, Marilyn.
          Addressing a person properly is so important.
          Up our way, though, we say it don’t matter as long as we are not called late for dinner.
          As to cutting international aid I would agree with you. It is reprehensible.


          • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

            I’ve made what I hope to be a reasonable assumption that yours like mine is a pseudonym. I find it a bit precious to be particularly defensive of a made up moniker, yet for some reason the one thing that does irk me slightly is people who can’t be bothered to capitalise one’s initials.


            • Garpal Gumnut May 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

              Agree totally hg, and other than as a lover of English, etymology, Shakespeare and Freud, I would have not explained my reasons for calling her as did. I regret any offence.
              It never ceases to amaze me how passages like Jennifer has quouted of Cixous can resonate in an even seemingly “off topic” manner to validate her concept of the self versus and with the other.


              • Marilyn May 13, 2013 at 6:36 am #

                I use my own real name because I don’t want to be misunderstood about what I am saying.

                If you want to use crap names you can expect them not to be honoured.


                • Garpal Gumnut May 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

                  That is a fair comment Marilyn and I would agree with your take on “naming”.



          • helvityni May 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm #


            “Addressing a person properly is so important.”

            For some people the formality is more important than the tone of the post. Of course the posters here disagree on many issues, but that does not mean that people should start name-calling each other, or bullying or belittling.

            If you address someone as gg instead of GG, it’s not the same calling Marilyn ‘Lyn’ , as she has told us that Marilyn is her REAL name


      • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

        I think you’re right to say that we can’t take ownership of wrongs that we didn’t commit, but you’re also getting precariously close to arguing that two wrongs make a right, and that’s an argument I won’t abide. Saudi Arabia are certainly no more guilty of what’s happened in Afghanistan than we are. In fact they weren’t even involved and we have been. So maybe it could and should be argued on behalf of genuine Afghan refugees that they’re in the situation that they’re in partly because of a war we waged against an abstract noun.


    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

      Thanks Marilyn I more or less invited you to make that point about the deaths of children and I’m happy that you did. I’m not sure what action it recommends because we clearly can’t wish wars away in the regions where they’re happening. It’s a powerfully stirring argument, but perhaps in relation to my original point not one that makes the risk of sea journeys any less desirous of avoiding.

      Thanks also for the link. There’s a lot in there, granted that it harks back to last September, that dovetails with the Four Corners report I mentioned. It goes to show that when I’ve used the word “conflicted” to describe the policy position that we now have perhaps the better word that Hathaway supplies is disingenuous!

      If ever there was something that ought to be illegal then transportation of asylum seekers to those Islands is it. The mental anguish alone of being completely unable to know when your case will be heard must be intolerable. It is a cruel and unusual treatment of the very people we’re suppose to be obliged to help.


  11. doug quixote May 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    A number of commenters are off topic.


    • hudsongodfrey May 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

      I’m partly aware that we are but the topic of justice for refugees raised its ugly head and perhaps it seems as fair and challenging a way as any to reflect on the nature of what justice really is.


    • Marilyn May 13, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      You only say that because you don’t like what you are reading. And Hudson is quite right, it is a crime to forcibly send those poor devils to other nations and jail them.


  12. doug quixote May 13, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    I must say I am surprised at the lack of reaction. Or do you all agree with me that the Cixous passage is bullshit?

    Perhaps you all do. 🙂


  13. paul walter May 13, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    No Doug.The post is clearly written and part of a theme Jennifer seems to be patiently developing. The early posts were good responses, including your own.
    Hudson and Marilyn probably have it the back of their mind that the “othering” phenomena is provided with a good example with westerner’s wariness of asylum seekers, a problem exacerbated by right wing press, politicians, etc.
    As for obnoxious postings I’d dismiss GarpalGumnut’s fairly late one as conservative cock andbull, but the thread seems a bit more mellow than usual, on the whole.


    • doug quixote May 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      Clearly written bullshit is still bullshit.

      Beautifully cooked and served on a golden platter, it steams with an unforgettable aroma. 🙂


      • paul walter May 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

        You want to try Irigaray if Cixous isn’t your cup of tea, Doug.


        • doug quixote May 14, 2013 at 9:11 am #

          Who?? Had to look that one up, and wasted a minute of my time.

          If you want to be a nuisance, do it with someone else. Try reading my exchange with HG over Wittgenstein.

          Try comparing the views of Nietzsche with those of Hegel, or revisit Kant, as I have recently.


          • paul walter May 14, 2013 at 9:42 am #

            Shulamith Firestone is another significant name.


            • doug quixote May 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

              What’s with the radical feminism? I couldn’t give a fuck for any of them. 🙂


              • paul walter May 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

                That’s not the attitude. The sister’n feel they have some thing to tell us.


    • Garpal Gumnut May 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

      walter, can you assist me in how any of my posts on Cixous were ” obnoxious “, and which ones were, just to learn for the future. Ob is such a delightful prefix in English, addressing the other, without engagement. Cixous knows you better than you think. And she is not mellow.


      • helvityni May 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

        ….and addressing them by their surname, without Mr/Mrs/ is the polite way?

        ‘I’m happy to be called by my first name or the combination of the first and the surname.

        If anyone would me call by my surname only, I would find it odd and rude, affectionate and friendly or humorous nick-names are fine between friends.


        • Poirot May 13, 2013 at 8:39 pm #


          I was saying exactly that to my friend, Hastings, the other day….people do it to Poirot all the time 🙂


          • helvityni May 14, 2013 at 8:53 am #

            Poirot, friends can call me anything, here or in real life, a foreign name, no matter how short, is hard to get it right so I’m happy to go under: Heidi, Halva, Hilda, Helga…kids call me Helvs…
            On these blogs where there isn’t much friendliness or affection I prefer Helvi.

            Anyhow, Poirot, nice to see you back .Bring Hastings along…


        • Garpal Gumnut May 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

          Some have spent too long as acolytes on the Bobellis thread, derailment of good, useful comments, on thoughtful subjects is de rigeur, I guess Jennifer’s thread on Cixous has been sufficiently poleaxed to make further comment by me irrelevant. Sartre would be reaching for the maxolon. The derailers have appeared to win, mustering numerous others. Cixous lives, which was probably her point on a closer reading. Learn.


      • paul walter May 14, 2013 at 12:03 am #

        The one commencing,”Ill probably get my arse kicked..”
        The superficiality of your understanding of Cixous’ tract re self and other is amply demonstrated in that posting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: