Tag Archives: charlie chaplin

The Shortest Shadow

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Shortest Shadow: Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Two by Alenka Zupančič, part of the Short Circuits series from The MIT Press:

Alenka Zupančič's The Shortest Shadow

This book is a Lacanian psychoanalytic study of certain issues and themes in Nietzsche’s work. Author Zupančič is primarily concerned to offer a reading in which Nietzsche’s writing upholds and advances a Lacanian idea (I think? I have not read Lacan) of “the Real as the minimal difference of the same,” which is her interpretation of the figure of “the shortest shadow” among Nietzsche’s important “noon” tropes. According to Zupančič, this notion is the crux of a “philosophy of the two” to escape the sort of complementarity which reduces itself to unity.

I came to this book with a very different reading of “the shortest shadow,” and while Zupančič did not persuade me that hers was better, I did enjoy the book. The general gist is antimetaphysical without becoming a rationalist empiricism or materialist positivism — a feature of Nietzsche’s own work, to be sure. It is demanding, though; I found that even the least fatigue on my part could reduce the writing here to gobbledygook. There was more of value for me in the first half of the book than the second, although that was perhaps a function of my limits as a reader.

Zupančič appends an essay “On Love as Comedy,” which treats some of the same issues, without any direct references to Nietzsche. It had been written as a separate project. Somewhat disorientingly in the context of a volume on Nietzsche, its definition of the comedic genre does not relate to classical or even Shakespearean sources. Instead, the exemplars are the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin. And yet references to tragedy are still to Aeschylus, following Lacan.

I might read other volumes in this series edited by Slavoj Zizek — of which The Shortest Shadow is the second. But the experience of this one suggests that I could benefit from a little “remedial” reading in Lacan before I do. [via]

 

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The Great Dictator

 

The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin

“I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate;
has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in:
machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.
Our knowledge has made us cynical,
our cleverness hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little:
More than machinery we need humanity;
More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say “Do not despair”.

The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress: the hate of men will pass and dictators die and the power they took from the people, will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish …

Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines. You are not cattle. You are men. You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. Only the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty.

In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written:

“The kingdom of God is within man”

Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men; in you, the people.

You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy let’s use that power, let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfill their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.

Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!”