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The most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever read

This means: not renouncing the noetic that transitionally infinitizes its objects, which is what Valery called Spirit; and yet not ignoring all kinds of sublimation processes that have phantasmatic essence that can never be isolated, thus which are, in other words, an imaginative activity coming from the unconscious and from its critique (in both senses of the genitive), that is, form transitional practices through which it projected towards the real and via the symbolic, practises that can always be inverted and become their opposite and thus, like fire, become that which, as the origin of civilisation, also constitutes the possibility of its negation and its end – the possibility of apocalypse, that is, of what must and can remain impossible.

Bernard Stiegler, What Makes Life Worth Living: On Pharmacology, Pg 42

How is it ok to write like this? Why don’t editors try and stop it? Is it the fault of the translator? Or is it this bad in the original French? Does he even edit his writing? I’m 40+ pages into this book and I barely have any idea what Stiegler is talking about. I can’t remember ever having struggled so much with continental philosophy before and I’m tempted to give up. Writing like this either shows contempt for your reader or a woeful lack of clarity in your own thinking.

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3 replies

  1. Charles Turner periodically sticks photocopies of paragraphs from Stiegler in my own and our more theoretically minded colleagues, daring us to translate the stuff into plain (or even Giddenseque) English. I guess he hit upon something!

  2. I can see why! I’m amazed at QUITE how bad this stuff is. I tried translated it this afternoon & managed to get 1 or 2 specific claims out of each page at the very most.

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