Barbaric Heart


1.0 : Saturday January 23th, 2010 at 14:30 h.

The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature. by Curtis White.
Look to Beauty, Not Technology, to Save the Planet.
Confronting the perils and promises of capitalism by looking through time and discovering our "Barbaric Heart."


'How can we keep faith in the idea of the United States, whose economy and government seem so thoroughly possessed by what White calls the Barbaric Heart?
With his trademark wit, White argues that true resolution of our climate change crisis is likely to come from an unexpected quarter: the arts, religion, and the realm of the moral imagination more generally.'

An article very interesting and nicely written, with lots of beautiful phrases and quotes. Strong in it's analysis to the fundamentals. The solution proposed by the author as being "a logos of its own, that can contest the energies (and tyrannies) of the Barbaric Heart" seems right on track to me, because a true and thorough paradigm shift will be indespensible if we want to have next generations of our species a future on this planet.

However, if this solution would be restricted to the beauty, art etc., - though these may certainly inspire and delight, comfort and move us - that would seem somewhat weaker and meagre to me. For beauty, arts etc. have always been around since the start of manhood, and their value is not decidable but established by personal appreciation or taste that vary immensely among individuals or cultures, making it arbitrary in that respect - which is of course fine, this illustrates diversity and richness of life and experience - but the most magnificant achievements in the arts didn't signicantly change mind sets of peoples and their leaders to stop destroying life and nature (and fellow men) on the earth. I think it takes some huge steps to environmental responsibility for that. And for that, I think acknowledging of intrinsic value of all life forms and ecosystems is necessary - thus leave the 'bio-robot' model, the concept that is still leading main-stream 'civilization' on a dead-end techno-fetishist track to further zombification as shown in the Barbaric Heart. The crucial step is I see it to acknowledge subjective consciousness in its true miraculous and mysterious nature.

Quotes form Barbaric Heart

This I find a nice description of what I like to call zombification:
"The Barbaric Heart is a pure emptiness, an emptiness that doesn't know itself as empty. It is an emptiness that has turned upon itself. It is a mouth that chews. It is a permanent state of war against all others but also, most profoundly, against itself. One part violence, one part plunder, and eventual anguish and regret."

"This is the barbaric calculation: if you can prosper from violence, then you should go ahead and be violent. In short order the Barbaric Heart is led to conclude that in fact prosperity is dependent on violence. Therefore, you should be good at violence, for your own sake and the sake of your country.
That was Roman virtu [='virtus']. Which is a way of saying that the barbaric itself is a form of virtue, especially if you think that winning, surviving, triumphing, and accumulating great wealth are virtues, just as, in order, athletes, Darwinians, military commanders, and capitalists do. Ultimately, these types are all the same. The athlete, the soldier, and the businessman all want to "win," and by whatever means necessary
[..] Tragic fate, for the Greeks, was the understanding that once you put a certain principle in motion, that principle would play itself out. Completely out. And so, as in Aeschylus's tragedies, humans pursue what they perceive to be their own interest only to become "the slave of their own destruction," an apt expression of our current situation on multiple fronts, economic, military and environmental."

The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature.
by Curtis White.
Pub. Date: September 2009, ISBN-13: 9780981709123, Sales Rank: 138,736, 189pp.

Curtis White is the author of the novels "Memories of My Father Watching TV" and "Requiem." A widely acclaimed essayist, his work appears regularly in "Context" and "Harper's." He is an English professor at Illinois State University and a board director at the award-winning Dalkey Archive Press.

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