The Reason of Unreason (and the Risus Sardonicus of Rationality)

This remains one of my own favorite books due to its innovative language, from 2013. A summary blurb and an out-take from the book:

This book contains both a new interpretation of the self and its relationship to some of the conceptual aspects of consciousness, including spirit and myth, and a critical discussion of various understandings of rationality and how this concept has both aided and hindered our self-understanding as living beings inhabiting a world which is at once alien to us – in that it speaks a language of nature that we cannot wholly comprehend – as well as being our own world – that of human history and ontology. It begins with an interpretation of the cover painting, and introduces the idea of ‘antigonality’ – ‘the politics of doubt, the doubting of politics’ – the first of a number of new conceptual descriptions which also include the ‘outer child’ and the mocking visage of those whose faith in rationality as the sole reasoning force of life leads them to feel most fully the self-satire of death. The Reason of Unreason will be of interest to anyone attempting to grasp the fuller meanings of our fluid relationships with self-knowledge and the social world.

Of course, the ‘universe’ of this morality of apparently larger and yet more intimate loyalty is not at all as broad as we would like to believe. In order to face down the size of the state or some other institutional setting, we blow ourselves up, take on airs, raise our chins to the sky. That all of these antics can be the stuff of the visionary, the revolutionary, even the messiah, is as historically accurate as it is surprising. It is always a person thinking themselves outside of culture who preaches the end of culture, but it can only be the madman who proclaims the end of nature or the deaths of gods. Now this volte face is anything but ironic. Rather, it is the precise fulfillment of the necessity of the bleeding cut of radical subjectivity, of its new-found freedom and its assumption of all risks.” (from the book).

Cover art by my friend Lina Kazan, Saskatoon painter and dancer.