Heidegger’s Black Notebooks reviewed in the LARB

A good review by Gregory Fried of the first three volumes of Heidegger’s Black NotesbooksThe King Is Dead: Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks” | The Los Angeles Review of Books. Unlike others I’ve linked to, this one does a good job of charting Heidegger’s overall ontology and radical historicism before contextualizing the specific volumes and from there the notorious descriptions of a “worldless” Jewry. One note: Fried follows Peter Trawny, the editor of the German edition of the Notebooks, in describing Heidegger’s anti-semitism as “rooted in the history of Being” (cited in the review). I’m a bit clearer now about what Trawny means–it was opaque to me before this–namely that Heidegger didn’t view the Jews as a racial question, but in terms of “uprooting…all beings from Being as its world-historical ‘task'” (cited in the review). But Heidegger’s problem is precisely that the Jews are not a historically situated people, that is, a nation, as the Germans are par excellence. Whatever refusals on his part, this is still a racial category, not least since one can’t write on Jewry in the 1930s–as can be seen even in the arguments over Zionism within various Jewish communities–without the shadows of a fully racialized biopolitics that overtook modernity, well described by Arendt in Origins of Totalitarianism, and which Heidegger seems here and in already published places to replicate point by point. As rootless and denationalized, they are thus without history and one sees this in so much dehumanizing moves of various nationalisms. That Heidegger wanted to say it wasn’t a racial category speaks more to his megalomania that Fried describes–I don’t like the Jews, but I have a better theory than regular Germans–than somehow leaping out of the historical discourses that founded his thinking on Germanness and so on.

Two new books reviewed at Symposium

The first is on Jessica Whyte’s excellent Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, which provides the needed background for Agamben’s sources, especially in Marxist thought, as well as a defense of his major claims that takes seriously various critiques since Homo Sacer appeared.

The second is on my colleague Sean McGrath’s The Dark Ground of Spirit: Schelling and the Unconscious. It’s a review that goes through well McGrath’s project in that book, which along with providing the basis for a Schellingian psychoanalysis on McGrath’s terms, also provides introduction both to pre-Freudian psychoanalysis and post-Freedom essay Schelling.