The Pleasure Of Proliferating Perspectives

When I was in high school, my American History teacher — the late, great Robert Tucker — had us read Gabriel Kolko’s essay on the formation of the USDA in which Kolko claimed that the USDA and its dispensation of approval — those assuring gradations of meat — were not born of consumer advocacy but were in fact a foil of the meat industry, an industry suffering due to Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” which exposed the grotesqueries of meat packing.

The USDA, then, was not only not there to protect my fellow citizens and me — it was in fact an elaborate abuse of governmental ethos, a ploy to move product, a product which may very well be harmful to the very citizens the USDA was nominally formed to protect.

At first, I thought I was attracted to this act of revelation, the truth unleashed from the dissimulation of authority. But that was not it at all.

What attracted me, what sent my heart a flutter, was the radical shifting of perspectives. Which is to say, it was not the new perspective per se which interested me: it was the very act of seeing things differently.

It took me some time to realize that I was not in accord with the revisionist Marxists. They wanted to reveal a perspective, their perspective. What I wanted, however, was to have that moment — that moment when the world rearranges itself before my eyes, reorganizes itself into new configurations, that glorious moment when the world is born anew, when everything I thought was the truth turns out to be just another configuration, that moment when the dead world is reanimated — I wanted that moment again and again and again.

And this is what I love so much about taking up new and different philosophers: I want to see the world utterly anew. I want to have everything I know, my ordering of the universe, to be reassembled — Nietzsche’s biting reversals and insistent physiology; Hegel’s schizo chorus comedy of errors; Kant’s mad mad rational wacky architecture; Derrida’s pedantic double gestures; Deleuze and Guattari’s intensities, folds, and planes of immanence; Bergson’s endurance and flash of intuition: I want them all.

I’m not looking for the right one: they’re all right in their way. No, I don’t want what’s right: I want the pleasure, the delight, the delirium of all those different ways.

Each thinker gives me a different way of making sense — and the more I read, the more I digest them, the more this multiplicity plays through my head, through my eyes, through my blood and guts.

And so then I can see the world in radically disparate ways all at once, an endlessly shifting series of planes of understanding, the world aligning and realigning itself at infinite speed. It is a an exquisite vertigo, a thrill of relentless (re)creation, an erotics of the world folding over and through itself. And I love it. TC mark


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  • YEDC

    I can't believe someone else feels this way, I feel less alone in the world tonight.

  • Jordan

    I need this was a Daniel Coffen piece just by the title.  Thank you for writing something worthwhile Daniel!

  • BLOW

    Seems funny how proliferation undercuts itself.  Not sure what that means, but I know it happens; everything happens…

  • Christopher Michael Luna

    This was great.  All too often it feels like there's this overwhelming anxiety in some forms of modern analytical philosophy to create the exclusively perfect system; the perfect foundation of strong assumptions, and the unassailable chains of logic that create an invulnerable world view.

    I've always found philosophy much more exciting and much more full of potential real-world applications when the perfectionism is dropped; when we understand that every philosophy is necessarily limited.  It's more empowering, more effective, to carry a pantheon of voices than a single, cold-eyed, hyper-rational Emperor in our head.

  • Lindseycm

    Daniel Coffeen is the best contributer on TC.

  • Every.Single.Time.

    This was better than the usual Coffeen piece, right up until the second-to-last sentence, where he indulged his habitual urge towards pretentious turgidity.  It was otherwise, for me, a matchless delight, a ravishingly relentless refulgence, until the wretched orthotics of pretension straitjacketed his point.

  • bbrbv
  • Samuel Walker

    I think discovering and reading philosophy through the internet and mis/reinterpreting it for direct application to your life is kind of becoming a new folk religion. It's kind of a safe, rational way to reach out for an authoritative life-narrative after rejecting everything under postmodernism.

  • Duke Holland of Gishmale


  • tzaramantic

    i wish this article was longer!

  • bodythatmatters

    Do you read Elizabeth Grosz?

    • bodythatmatters

      I mean to say your article has a feminist strain to it, perhaps unintentionally.

      • Daniel Coffeen

        I have not read her.  Just Googled her and love her book titles. Is there one you'd suggest?

  • donnerunbaiser

    this article just did that for me

  • uybn4
  • Dean Feole

    This seems to contradict the point of considering different world views altogether. If someone becomes comfortable with the idea that they don't desire any specific belief or philosophy to stick with them and guide their conscience in any longterm sense then it would be hard to imagine how their ability to value any belief or ideal goes beyond the most superficial comprehension imaginable, the kind of comprehension that an outdated Word Processor has when an 8th grader types a word like 'Absurdity' or 'Faith'; it would seem the true appreciation of philosophy, academic investigation or intellectualism comes from the sincerity that any idea, at any moment, can take ahold of your being entirely, indefinitely, and without formal apology. It would seem that your belief is more akin to ego masturbation or a social ploy where “thinking” is a mental parallel to lifting weights or blogging.

    • Samuel Sonorous

      This demeans the multiplicitous nature of human beings though. It is not necessary nor necessarily “natural” for a person/human being to only be capable of applying one lens to reality. The author of this piece may well have a set of beliefs he uses in his daily life to negotiate his reality, but having the ability to switch between frames in any given context is far more interesting than being caged by only a few.

      “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
      – Walt Whitman

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