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Caribbean eco-poetics takes the categorial imperative – the culmination of the long history of Western separation of human and nature in the Enlightenment/colonial mandate to categorize and systematize, to collect and enclose, to divide and conquer – as part of the violence of colonialism. Caribbean eco-poetics offers ways of articulating the endless transitions, the perpetual revolutions, and the inextricable imbrications of humans with not only nature, animals and things but also of all those with spirits, folk figures and divine forces that are endemic in the Caribbean. This essay examines how Caribbean eco-poetics return to the colonial archive to examine the naturalization of the categorial imperative and to recuperate its victims, reconfigure the garden and gardening as ways to reinhabit and reconfigure the categorial imperative, write worlds where indifferences of human, animal, spirit, genre are manifest, and include indifference to binary gender and heteronormativity.
The chapter takes this Kleinian framework and uses it to read the texts and theological practices of Loyola and the Jesuit order. It illuminates the ways Loyola’s problems of reading, belief, and paranoia would have come to Joyce – more than a simple matter of ‘influence’, as most studies of religion and Joyce would have it, but as an implicit, peculiar set of problems Joyce would adapt and employ in his own work.
Chapter 1 gives two answers to the question, why should we care about meaning? The first answer comes from Blaise Pascal. He was appalled at people who appear to be indifferent to the meaning of their lives because, he believes, everyone naturally cares about meaning. Given this fact, we expect that everyone will care about meaning. This expectation is muted somewhat, however, by the fact that there are a number of causes of indifference. A second answer to the question of the chapter connects caring about meaning with believing in God: we should care about meaning because God has given us desires for intrinsic goods and right pleasures and because God desires for us to satisfy these desires. This answer is compatible with duty ethics (deontological ethics), happiness ethics (hedonism), and virtue ethics. The chapter suggests that caring about meaning can be regarded as a virtue alongside traditional virtues, and it describes the features of such a virtue.
Chapter 2 distinguishes everyday boredom from existential boredom. The former involves losing particular desires whereas the latter involves losing all desires - nothing interests one. The chapter describes the fright and terror that are often felt when existential boredom threatens. It also describes evasive tactics that are used to avoid that terror. Among these tactics are physical activities, mental activities, and moral and religious activities. Without these evasive tactics, one could experience dread, agony, despair, frustration, rebellion, or suicidal feelings. The myth of Sisyphus is used to illustrate rebellion. One can, however, deal with boredom in a different way by regarding it as what Soren Kierkegaard calls a “call from eternity.” The chapter describes five conditions that are needed for one to experience such a “call,” plus the differences between an activity that is used simply to evade boredom and one that alleviates boredom without doing so evasively.
Critics have long debated the origins and influences on what might be called the McCarthian universe of violence. This chapter argues for a rethinking of the place of American literary naturalism – particularly the works of Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London, and Theodore Dreiser – as a key influence on McCarthy’s understanding of the omnipresence and inescapability of violence in human existence. Reading both McCarthy’s and the literary naturalists’ connections to the pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin in the mid-nineteenth century, the chapter marks striking similarities between the judge’s philosophy in Blood Meridian of “before man was, war waited for him” and the naturalist philosophy (as perhaps most purely articulated in Dreiser’s The Financier) that “life was war.” Both McCarthy and the naturalists, then, display an acceptance of a world and universe in which morality and justice no longer held any sway, violence, degradation, corruption, and indifference are the only constants, and human beings are little more than flickering, momentary flashes, either subject to or reveling in these violent characteristics.
Freedom is often analysed in terms of the absence of intentionally imposed constraints. I defend the alternative view on which the relevant constraints are those for which some agent can be held morally responsible. I argue that this best captures the relation between freedom and respect. Berlin (1969) correctly points out that intentional restrictions exhibit ill will and hence are disrespectful. However, the same holds, I argue, for restrictions that are due to indifference. Berlin also observed that it would be counterintuitive if an agent could increase her freedom by changing her preferences. I criticize the argument that Dowding and Van Hees (2007, 2008) present according to which this observation counts in favour of explicating freedom in terms of intentionality.
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