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Pounded in the butt by dialectical materialism.

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

5 Comments

  1. Adam Riggio
    July 31, 2014 @ 6:38 am

    Another fascinating instalment in your detailed exploration of Dirty Pair. I have to say, though, I'm intrigued by Ronell's reading of Nietzsche. I agree with her (and the wider post-Deleuze camp) that Nietzsche is ultimately a progressive philosopher, theorizing a constructively transformative image of the beyond-human. But associating that image with women doesn't seem to jive with Nietzsche's own ideas about gender in general and the female in particular.

    I always read Nietzsche as having developed what kind of morality that a post-human person would have. I work through a lot of this in fiction (and possibly film, if my new collaboration comes together well) with my character of Alice, which we've discussed before. Which I suppose does fit with Ronell's interpretation of the post-human as woman, but I'm skeptical that Nietzsche on his own could have come to this conclusion.

    Do you have any sources (open or pirated) where Ronell spells out her ideas in this regard? Particularly whether she's trying to say that this is what Nietzsche intended (a dubious goal at best, though one that arises all-too-frequently in the purely academic context) or whether Nietzsche is a launchpad for her own philosophical development (as I prefer to use the history of philosophy).

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    July 31, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    The source I always keep at arm's length for summaries of Ronell's philosophy is her 2010 book Fighting Theory, which is a transcript of an interview Anne Dufourmantelle did with her in France. Ronell runs through her history with and conception of philosophy, expanding on a lot of her signature topics and talking about why she's come to the perspectives she has.

    The book has a ton of my favourite moments of hers, like her interpretation of television in the wake of the AIDS and Rodney King piece she did and her explanation of how she came to her brazen defense of Valerie Solanis in her introduction to The SCUM Manifesto reprint, both of which are things I wish I could cite more often.

    The bit on Nietzsche, like the bit on Solanis, strikes me as Ronell quite clearly engaging in what we'd call a redemptive reading: While she seems to stop short of saying Nietzsche actually intended the radically progressive stuff she attributes to his work (most prominently in The Gay Science and Beyond Good and Evil), she doesn't outright deny it's a possibility either.

    Ronell's big point is that the text leaves itself open to her interpretation, especially given the way she chooses to translate it (she charmingly calls Nietzsche "pregnant" from the closing moments of Beyond Good and Evil) and that it's our responsibility to mobilize what we can for the forces of material social progress. She stresses his fixation on the figure of Eve, calling science "Eve's abandoned kingdom". Following from this, Dufourmantelle describes Nietzsche as "a symptomatologist".

    Which is why I tried to take care to attribute the transhuman Übermensch stuff not to Nietzsche necessarily, but rather to Ronell's reading of him. I should probably make that a bit more clear in the final sentences.

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  3. Daru
    August 14, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

    Wow Josh thanks for a great essay and what a wonderful episode. I do actually feel that this is my favourite story out of them all so far (Sunrise) and I really would watch this one repeatedly.

    I love the moment at the beginning with Colonel Patch where he states in one sentence what is brilliant about Kei and Yuri, in his surprise at two women doing what they did to his unspecified evil plans. Wonderful.

    I think of Kei and Yuri being the healers for Reamonn and thus also Miralda in this story. The first scene change from the colourful explosions into Reamann's grey/blue house is akin to Poe for me with it's doom laden, portentous feelings and the revelling completely in emotions of utter sadness and loneliness. His relationship to his statue feels like a removal from life, almost like a worship of death (that eyeless face) where any connection to the world is expressed through poetry and a longing to transcend the earth.

    His allergy is interesting as I see allergies as a resistance the natural world, where our bodies systems overreact to aspects of life we are meant to interact with and treat them as predators.

    Kei and Yuri then for me represent full-on Goddess-charged life crashing into Reamann's world and heart. This is shown through the almost sensuous scene with them in their bright pink pod as it plummets to the earth like the star or comet Reamann called for – as contrasted with the deathly hues of the dinner scene. And boy do they bring him back to life!

    Great to hear Nietzsche here – I have read works such as Beyond Good & Evil and do see glimmers in that work of an attempt to inspire us into a greater life more filled with aliveness and expression.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    August 15, 2014 @ 10:28 am

    A lovely reading befitting our Lovely Angels. Wonderful.

    I love the way you've evoked themes of animism, healing and artistic expression. I love how you read Reamonn's allergy as an overreaction to nature-That's literally what it is, and speaks volumes about our disconnect from the world we inhabit and are meant to coexist as a part of. I love the phrase "worship of death" to explain Meshuzura's symbolism, that is, an elevation and objectification of death to an unnatural podium, and I love how you link that back to art and creativity.

    I wish I had more to add aside from "I think you've nailed it".

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  5. Daru
    August 15, 2014 @ 11:19 pm

    Hey thanks very much! This one really hit home for me and touched the heart of what is important to me at the same time. So thanks for your comments and for your essay Josh.

    Reply

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