Jason (jcreed) wrote,

Maybe I am a little too fascinated with philosophers who go completely crazy late in life. I need to finish Nietzsche's "Zarathustra" some time, (I think I've read the first half of it twice now) but in the meantime, I've been reading some interesting stuff about Louis Althusser.
From the link:
In fact, [...] drugs become the State Apparatus par excellence because they are the ultimate expression of the notion that the human is purely a consequence of its structural (in this case, pharmaceutical) qualities.
Such a perfect statement of exactly why I felt so squeamish about the possibility of getting a prescription for anti-depressants (in the end, I never did: therapy turned out to be helpful enough) back during the dark six months of 1995 when I was not mentally well enough to even go through the motions of functioning normally. Drugs pull back the curtain and laugh at you for supposing you're any more than a complicated chemical machine. It's a profoundly difficult, troubling thing to admit. It's not that I really reject it — it seems like the best theory that science has to offer for the moment — but lord, it's unpleasant to face it.

The fact that Althusser murdered his wife and then turns around and documents it... (in his autobiography L'Avenir diure Longtemps, the title translated in places as "the future lasts a long time" or "the future lasts forever") ...it digs at my bones somehow. It's terrifying, the image of this boundary between a once incisive intelligence and violent insanity.

Althusser treats his own behavior in a very detached way, as if his conduct were a sort of rumor. He writes, "I do not know what exactly I put Helene through (I do know, however, that I was truly capable of the most terrible things), but she told me...that in her eyes I was a monster.
Interesting bits from another short biography:
In L'Avenir diure Longtemps Althusser tells that he used to massage Hélène's neck, but this time he massaged the front of her neck. "Yet I knew she had been strangled. But how? I stood up and screamed: 'I've strangled Hélène!'" In medical examination, the skin on her neck bore no external marks of strangulation. Althusser avoided prison - for the fustration of the media and Althusser himself, he was denied the whole procedure of a public court appearance. Althusser stayed in hospital until 1983. He in the north of Paris, isolated from all but a few friends. Althusser died of a heart attack on October 22, 1990.
With his confession [...] Althusser wanted the break the wall of silence around him. Its material must have pleased his psychoanalysts - he claims that he had an Oidipal attachment to his mother, he did not lern to masturbate until at the age of twenty-seven, he practiced shoplifting one month in Brittany, and he was obsessed with thought that his writings would expose him as a trickster and deceiver, a "philosopher who knew almost nothing about the history of philosophy or about Marx..." Althusser admits that his memoirs includes also hallucinations between true accounts. One imaginary detail in The Facts deals with President De Gaulle. Althusser meets him on a street. De Gaulle has a cigarrette dangling from his mouth and he asks Althusser for a light. They have a brief discussion. A week later De Gaulle invites Althusser to dinner and the discussions continue.

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