- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: State University of New York Press (July 3, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0791429083
- ISBN-13: 978-0791429082
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,546,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality Paperback – July 3, 1996
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"Sartwell invokes and comments in detail on selected texts of Emerson, Nietzsche, Havel, various anarchists, and Oglala Sioux. His book has made me examine more closely the relationship between my own philosophical concerns and the way I live my life. The book is clear, impassioned, personal, and engaging."-- Andrew Cutrofello, Loyola University of Chicago"The book is astonishingly honest. Sartwell does not shy away from telling us anything about his past behaviors or attitudes. He manages to do this without posturing or pointing to his honesty. I also find the anti-interpretation of reality shocking and interesting. I like the book even though I disagreed with something on nearly every page. I think that that is always a sign of a book worth reading. I read it in two sittings in between which I wanted to get back to it. This seems something of a tour de force! " -- Alison Leigh Brown, Northern Arizona University
From the Back Cover
Sartwell presents an extreme and provocative philosophy of life. He explores what happens if we love this world precisely as it is, with all of its pain, with all of its evil, with all of its bizarre and arbitrary and monstrous thereness. In a highly personal and brutally direct style, Sartwell explores the themes of transgressive sexuality, political anarchism, addiction, death, and embodiment. The author engages contemporary and historical debates in cultural criticism, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy, and expresses deep suspicions about them. He asserts that scientific philosophical conceptualization is a movement toward death, a rejection of reality. Moral and political values - the ethical rejection of the particular precisely from within the particular - are, Sartwell claims, an assault on human authenticity. Thus, transgression - which is described as the affirmation of embodiment through obscenity - is something we radically require.
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We are taught to be conscious of the ways we dissemble reality, negate it, and therefore are denying the reality of something. We do this as we construct programs of reform, program our future, program our very existence with correspondant facts that live on only in our minds inner world. Places filled with lies we tell ourselves to get through the day.
If we weren't cowards we could accept even learn to embrace the cold corners of reality, yet our unhealthy persistence to cut them leads us into self-annihilation, demonstrations of our hatred for being vulnerable to natures incredible force. At last an uncontrollable hatred for the world stems from itself; as the hater hides himself from the restrictions placed on his own embodiment so the world suffers for it. The world dies without courageous people willing to take a shot at affirmation of what is. I guess this book is part acknowledgment, part treatment, a text devoted to our own rehabilitation. It's powerful, funny, but incredibly serious, to the point and quite a necessary book. This one, from the cover y'know, stands out and alone and for one basic reason, for you, and how it will crush the falsehood out of you.
This book hit me hard because he's dealing with some very specific philosophical problems that are poignant to me lately. I want to live an authentic life, and I do a lot of thinking of how to go about it. Sartwell points out that the impulse to create philsophical systems is a way of escaping from reality. He views ontological systems with suspicion. If you read this with an openess to what he's trying to convey, it will be well worth the time. I have a feeling this will be one of those special books that I'll read from time to time and gain even more insight from as the years go by.
It is a book scattered with brilliant observations and phenomenology. Basically, the author attempts to include and integrate the obscene, "unacceptable" elements - like the loss of will, addiction, the situation of grief - into nothing short of an affirmation of being in the world, basing upon honoured traditions and thinkers. For me, he helped clarify much confusion regarding what actually is "harm" and "will".
He presents the most original explanation as to why people train in a gym, for example.
If you want to step out of the conventional, banal, politically correct, "morality"-straight-jacketed performance and in the process actually turn more authentic rather than more hating this is the book for you.
Sartwell may be slightly romantic about traditions he quotes- native Americans, tantric Buddhism - but that is forgiveable in my opinion.