Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In Looking Away, Rei Terada revisits debates about appearance and reality in order to make a startling claim: that the purpose of such debates is to police feelings of dissatisfaction with the given world. Terada proposes that the connection between dissatisfaction and ephemeral phenomenality reveals a hitherto-unknown alternative to aesthetics that expresses our right to desire something other than experience "as is", even those parts of it that really cannot be otherwise.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-05472-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations and Textual Note
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Pretext
    (pp. 1-34)

    Nietzsche’s fulminations against the invention of phenomenality are the high water mark of the moralization of arguments about appearance and reality. While Nietzsche’s complaint against metaphysics is clear enough—proposing that there is another world is “speaking ill of this world”—the psychology he attributes to metaphysical philosophers is less transparent. Nietzsche insinuates that uneasiness is the compliment these philosophers pay to the given world; apparently, they take the elaborate detour of metaphysics because they feel they have to be careful about their criticism. Why, we might ask, do they need “a pretext for speaking ill of this world”? What...

  6. 1 Coleridge among the Spectra
    (pp. 35-72)

    The last thing Coleridge wanted to be called was an empiricist, yet he devoted hours of his life to minute descriptions of optical illusions, hallucinations, and sensory oddities—spectra,” as he calls them. He records occurrences as ordinary as afterimages of colors,¹ double vision (N 1863, 2632), double-take (N 2212), and reflections taken as objects (N 1844, 2557, 3159), and as dramatic as flowers on the curtain that turn into faces (N 2082); “a spectrum, of a Pheasant’s Tail, that altered thro’ various degredations into round wrinkly shapes” (N 1681); a “spectrum” of his own thigh that registered touches as...

  7. 2 Appearance and Acceptance in Kant
    (pp. 73-113)

    As a self-help book for victims of transcendental illusion, Kant’sCritique of Pure Reasonachieved mixed results. Coleridge, De Quincey, Kleist, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche are among the many who register the failure of Kantian comfort to soothe the nervous mind. Stanley Cavell remarks, “you don’t . . . have to be a romantic to feel sometimes about [Kant’s] settlement: Thanks for nothing.”¹ “Thanks for nothing” is in fact close to Kant’s own point. As a project of reconciliation to the world, theCritique of Pure Reasonasks what it means to accept necessary limits; what counts as acceptance (it may...

  8. 3 No Right: Phenomenality and Self-Denial in Nietzsche
    (pp. 114-152)

    Coleridge seems to wish he could live by the First Critique but winds up living a Lockean nightmare; Nietzsche’s direct attacks on what he perceives as Kant’s weakness and negativity lead him to an even more selfpunishing “strength.” Nietzsche’s interpretation of Kant takes place within the domesticating movement of nineteenth-century Kant scholarship, which, I would argue, is hampered by its inability to let go of versions of fact/value moralization that are inconsistent with Kant’s philosophy.¹ Nietzsche views “the movement back to Kant” of his time quite clearly as “want[ing] to regain a right to the old ideals and the...

  9. 4 Court of Appeal, or, Adorno
    (pp. 153-198)

    With Adorno we arrive at a historicized account of phenomenality and dissatisfaction unavailable earlier, developed as it is from Marx. For Adorno, the critique of fact perception as social artifact is research in the phenomenology of ideology. As such, it suggests a cultural explanation of the motives for phenomenophilia, one echoed in criticism by Fredric Jameson, Mary Poovey, and Jonathan Crary, among others. Adducing Marx’sEconomic and Philosophical Manuscripts,Jameson remarks inThe Political Unconsciousthat

    the very activity of sense perception has nowhere to go in a world in which science deals with ideal quantities, and comes to have...

  10. Postscript
    (pp. 199-204)

    Freud begins Section VI ofCivilization and Its Discontentswith a confession of superfluity: “In none of my previous works have I had so strong a feeling as now that what I am describing is common knowledge and that I am using up paper and ink and, in due course, the compositor’s and printer’s work and material in order to expound things which are, in fact, selfevident [um eigentlich selbstverständliche Dinge zu erzählen].”¹ Freud has been describing a faultline in happiness: as its pursuit may impede others’ happiness, the existence of other happiness-seekers constricts one’s own satisfaction even as it...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-218)
  12. Index
    (pp. 219-225)