Thick Gratitude

Charles Spinosa replies to my last post here and expounds his notion of « thick gratitude ».
I am glad that we still agree on enough to be able to have a conversation, and differ enough to have something to say other than phatic consensus. I have no desire to be an intellectual cheerleader who cries out “Yes, that’s great” to every thesis of ALL THINGS SHINING and “Boo!” to all its adversaries. As Bert and Sean imply at the end, only the shining parts of the book (and of the blog) are shining. I am glad Spinosa brought up Gary Willis as I think the reactions to his critique on the blog were unfair, concentrating on his motivations rather than the detail of his arguments. I think a title like “Gary Willis really did not like our book!” with a host of commentators rising as one to applaud this response was a case of the bad physis that one should resist.
That said I don’t think it’s fair to assimilate Connolly’s nontheistic gratitude to Willis’s Catholic gratitude. Connolly is not grateful that something exists rather than nothing, he is grateful at the wondrous diversity of the world. It’s non-propositional: grateful-at not grateful-that, and pluralist: “the rich diversity of being”.
Spinosa’s “thick gratitude” towards “something that has some sort of personality” is tempting, but I regard a personality an assemblage of multiplicities, becomings, and singularities in a problematic intensive field. I am ready to grant psychic and social existence to the born again Christian fundamentalist’s experienced God, but I do not think of this God as an unanalyseable unit but as an assemblage of cognitive, affective, and perceptual elements, each of which has both singular and stereotypical components and aspects. I would choose Richard Dawkins over Billy Graham any day (and as anyone who reads this blog can see, I  myself am no scientistic positivist).
My problem with the extraction of a pure affect of gratitude is more a problem of theory-ladeness and practice-ladenness. I wonder to what degree a pure affect that is transposable to other contexts is conceivable, and to what extent the transfer or translation modifies the very quality of the affect, leaving only a family resemblance. I think that there is a typology of gratitudes, and not just the idealists who begin with a preconception and who make sense of gratitude in its terms versus the phenomenologists who start with the phenomenon of gratitude and stick with it. In my discussion with Spinosa we have been led to distinguish at least three types (comic-book gratitude, thick gratitude, and Lucretian gratitude).
Spinosa claims that the ultimate criterion is pragmatic: « Who would you want over for dinner? » He seems very at ease with the idea of inviting two hitmen (Jules and Vincent) to dinner. In a similar vein, Sean Kelly saw no problem with watching the superbowl with Moby Dick (how “live dangerously” can you get!). I can reveal in a more Deleuzian vein that I would like to have Nyarlathotep the Crawling Chaos to dinner.

Cet article a été publié dans All Things Shining - the book, Dialogue with Spinosa, Sur le blog All Things Shining. Ajoutez ce permalien à vos favoris.

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