In Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, Heidegger introduces the idea of relative poverty in world. This is where he, notoriously, describes the animal as “poor in world”, lacking discourse and not attuned as are discursive beings, “man” not purely qua zoon logon ekhon, but as the animal able to know beings as beings, not animal rationale, but attunement. The beast, instead, relates to ontic odds and ends: the hive, the stretch of sea it swims, the cave or the burrow.
Modern humans, secondly, are seen as captivated by average everydayness, just as the beast is captivated by the small environment within which it lives. These humans are the willing victims of fashion, fads, hobbies and restless curiosity, driving them to believe that interesting “lived experiences” are better than wisdom – they want to visit and “see” places. In a word, they suck ass.
Furthermore, the beast distinguishes itself from the average human in that animals behave instinctually towards the world, humans comport themselves. Though humans are nowadays most often exceptionally poor in world, they still comport themselves to it – they are attuned in mood.
The third phenomenon that Heidegger describes in Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics is “profound boredom”, where the emptiness of everything shows itself. This is the crushing ennui that reveals the world as of no value and pointless. The world is no longer even boring to this attunement; it is merely indifferent, it might as well not be there.
This, of course, relates to the teratology that Chesler presents in Fragments and elsewhere in that the characters that she describes are so limited. The freak non-human characters that she presents, like “Little Jack”, are extraordinarily poor in world; but the same goes for the collection of characters that draw on real human prototypes. They are all incredibly limited in their intellectual repertoire and emotional range – a degenerate and low quality version of average everydayness. Unlike the animals, poor in world, their deprivation is culpable – they are scumbags.
It is customary to accuse Heidegger of a sort of transcendental anthropocentrism in his treatment of animals, though he is radically critical of philosophy’s anthropocentrism. But it is not only animals that are “weltarm” but, and this time culpably, the humans who succumb to the superficial. Dasein is not rich in world; it can be rich in world, but generally it is not. Chesler’s characters are often below the animal or the restricted Dasein.
Being worldless and being poor in world both represent a kind of not-having of world. Poverty in world implies a deprivation of world. Worldlessness on the other hand is constitutive of the stone in the sense that the stone cannot even be deprived of something like world. (Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, 194.)
Little Jack, an embodiment of male homoerotic sexuality, is interesting in that Heidegger writes often of drive, and the limitations that Chesler adumbrates are a question of instinct and drive. There is nothing to Little Jack beyond this physical being. Just so, there is no “soul”, no intellect, no spark of humanity in anybody in the book. It is not as with the animal, poor in world but complete and perfect as it is, it is the defective human that uses language but is not a truly discursive being, just a damaged and conditioned sub-animal. They are not open, they are not “Da” for Being.
We should resist the temptation to use anthropomorphic categories to describe the hominids in Chesler’s work, as it were. But nor should we describe them with mechanical categories: we must invent categories for the poor in world, not just the average everyday poor in world, but those who, proximally and for the most part, especially in Fragments, are scumbags. Poor in world and poor in penis – like the Limp-Dick Man and the Narcissist who figure in several stories.
Heidegger does not establish any ontological hierarchy. World-building Dasein, the Dasein that is poor in world, the non-human animals that are poor in world – all of these belong to different kinds. The distinctively human ability is to relate to trees as trees, a fundamentally ontological ability presupposing discourse – the inability to relate to patriarchy as patriarchy or sexism as sexism or love as endangered by both of these things is what makes a human being a scumbag, insufficient and poor in world.
In disgust and ennui provoked by the seedy activities of a pitiful world, we are thrown, says Heidegger, upon the determination of the indeterminate neglected possibilities, all closed doors to everyday scumbags. Just so, Chesler, partly in Fragments but even in the rest of her books, reveals her awareness of her self-identity and worth just through reflection on the trash among which she lives.
Heidegger speaks of how the things that disgust the thinker and have made her nothing and no one, in this state of profound boredom, become nothing and no one for her. They have stripped her of her possibilities, but are stripped down to dust and trash by her, revealed in their raw ugliness and impotence – not real women, not real men.
This ennui, related to the nihilism I previously discussed in Fragments, is somewhat paradoxically seen as pretty fucking cool by Heidegger. We are poor in world, but the poverty and deprivation of profound ennui lets us hear the call of the new possibilities of which we are truly capable – it makes Dasein possible.
And this call, this development, makes Fragments a truly great collection. This existential ennui is temporal, as are we, and captivates by revealing the horizons of time stretched out before us, leading the average everyday modern human to cover over the boredom with her obsession with novelties, fads, and curiosities. But as Dasein we must take upon ourselves the mystery of Being; we must be open to our own existence. The average person, the modern person, is not aware of the earth and art. They have interests instead: they work, they make money, they are concerned with their proper place – their possessions, their rank and status. They even developed an identity politics, bless their little fundamental confusions.
Chesler describes the ugliness of modern life. It all leads, though, to a focus upon herself, a chiseling of the character until she is strong enough to look at the empty and see wheels of fire there, eternity, whatever.
Fragments is still growing. It needs to be read. There is a point where we must consider what Heidegger writes about “animal Dasein” – access to the beast is vitally important. The low-grade Dasein that is poor in world is only human, “all too human”. For the crowned and conquering beast is the last god.
Help My Husband Save Turtles Again
On October 24th, my husband and I went to the park, the lake now partly frozen, for our usual turtle photographing bonanza. You see, in the spring, how many turtles rest on logs in the water. Well, we did not see turtles from the paved path through the park.
My husband decided to get close to a fallen branch in the now partially frozen lake because he wanted a fall turtle picture. And what a fall he got… He broke his leg very badly. We have no insurance. His leg was set at the emergency room, or the emergency room bill, but we cannot afford crutches. He is a large man, so it is hard for me to get him to the bathroom, and he has to, as we call it, “poopy in place.” We do have a mat under the sheet, which should preserve the mattress.
All in all, we got pretty lucky that in time he will be able to walk unassisted. For now, he lies in bed playing with himself and farting. I can’t take anymore, seriously. Please help me get him crutches, so he can be mobile again.
My husband, Daddy, has recently succeeded in losing 450 lb., and has even started to shit in what was left of the lavatory again.
Sadly, after thanking everybody for their most generous donations, Daddy was arrested yesterday at Shadyside Park. This is an egregious miscarriage of justice since I am pregnant with our future daughter, little Dorito.
Poor Daddy is charged with aggravated buggery of common snapping turtles and/or other aquatic animals. He risks confinement in the State Home for Retards and Scumbags unless I can pay his $5 000 bail so we can flee to Ohio, where bestiality of all sorts is actively encouraged. Ohio is, sadly, many days away, at least by VW 98 Golf hatchback. The entire state was relocated after the mathematicians were startled by an attempted suicide in their approximate vicinity.
What a pain in the ass. I wonder: should I keep Dorito?
Now The Philosophy of Extremism III by Jennifer S. Chesler & myself has reached Google Books. Here it is at this link.
Apart from the standard filth, it contains a series of articles/essays by myself about nihilism, teratology, & the writings of Chesler.
Now the newest collaborative thing is on Amazon. Here is is, The Philosophy of Extremism III by David C. McLean & Jennifer S. Chesler.
Heidegger points out that a thing can be worth nothing by being “null and nothing” itself. Nihilism, however, is thought of as a decline and a devaluation of values. In this sense, Chesler, in “Down & Out in Muncie, Indiana”, writes “I know nothing. I am nothing. I am the inevitable consequence of my actions” & this relates both to the ontological nullity & the sense of devaluation. In a sense, nihilism is a general preoccupation for Chesler. Her books narrate a series of interactions with a world that is trashy and relations with humans who are stupid, no better than trash.
Nihilism is “the uncanniest of guests”, says Nietzsche. Heidegger feels that the essence of nihilism might rest in not taking the nihil, the nothing, seriously, seeing it as an illusion created by negation. The tiger that is not in the room is not a negative tiger, as it were. The heart of nihilism is a not thinking of the nothing, and Nietzsche became a nihilist himself since he could not see nihilism as anything other than axiological.
“Down and Out” – man is homeless as regards his essence, there is no unconcealment of Being, but exploitation. Being is need, and man has become needless. This needlessness is a great lack, itself a terrible need, a shortcoming so monstrous that it populates the teratology of Fragments. Pathetic unthinking freaks like the characters described in the book are not aware of Being, they do not think, they exist in a world populated by beings that they exploit. The freaks of this teratology are also devalued, nothings in the Nietzschean sense
Chesler, in Fragments, sought love in a needless world populated by freaks. The word “love” is scarcely used in the book in its usual sense, since the freaks and monsters that inhabit that sordid landscape cannot love in any meaningful sense. They do not know the need of Being, though they are sometimes needy, in the colloquial sense, but they are de trop, they are a futility. This shows a double nihilism, an axiological nihilism as well as a Heideggerean nihilism where Chesler is aware of the terrible question of thrownness in the brute facticity of the world, but nobody else is, where she, the only thinker among her alleged friends, all worthless scum, is seen as the freak.