I was raised in a paradise. If I ever quip or comment that my writing has so far been quietly “apolitical,” I do not mean that I am void of political opinion— quite the contrary— but that my schemes look forward to a golden epoch when there is no more worry or high adventure in politics; when politics is so banalized and transparent that we can, for the most part, put it aside and get on with the Pursuit of Happiness. Not that this will ever happen, necessarily. This paradise is what you might call a “regulative idea.” I’m in accord with those folks who believe that politics should no longer be aestheticized and, pace some of my friends on the American Left, hope that radical chic and revolutionary logic will be retired for piecemeal reforms in an Open Society.Until that unfortunate little incident in Manhattan and Washington last year, and until the election of our disastrously fearless leader, the prospects for Post-History seemed brighter and gayer. Ahh, Post-history: missile wars replaced by culture wars, diplomacy and internationalism setting the beams and mortar for Tomorrow’s stable and balanced global commonwealth, and the good and clever citizens of the world— if they so desire— carving out their respective, autonomous niches and subcultures and lifeworlds, free from the energy drain of endless powerstruggles and hyperpolitics, to work on their particulars paths to joy, sublimity, and transformation. That is my paradise.
The wind changed, however, and disillusionment has soaked into my thoughts. Post-history is more unlikely than ever, outside of the world kowtowing to a militaristic and lopsided Pax Americana (not exactly the global commonwealth I had in mind). Still, I insist, not everything is political— not everything is a struggle for political power. I hope most things, in fact, are relatively apolitical— which is not to their discredit or diminution. Over and over and over again, I find the presumption that philosophy “in action” or “public philosophy” necessarily entails politics. This annoys the everliving shit out of me, and trivializes most actions and hobbies I would place under the banner of The Pursuit of Happiness. This is where I want to set the table for another public philosophy. I want to do for Boredom and Meaninglessness what others do for Oppression, Injustice, and Inequality, without simply closing the door on the latter three. This is not, I think you’ll agree, a small or frivolous project.