Click below for all "Seinfeld Ethnography" posts:
Marine Biologist The Doorman Opposite George Newman's Mail The Bootleg Marriage
Just Dessert Sleep Desk Late Coffee High Stakes Motor Oil Downtown
Code Cracking Nonfat Yogurt Bad Boy It's Not You I Can't Be... Exploding Wallet
Elaine Flies Coach The Close Talker The Alliance Broccoli Coated Culture Dinner Party
Click here for the reference to the "Argonauts" title, below.
Before we get too far down the interpretive road, here, let's take a look at the clip from this week's Argonauts of the Seinfeldian Specific post.
It is difficult to beat "I'm George; I'm unemployed and I live with my parents" for cultural markers denoting "loser" status, for better or worse. The brilliance of George's character on Seinfeld is not that he is a loveable loser—a character in American fiction that has grown almost into cliché. It is precisely because George is a truly annoying and generally unlikeable loser that he is interesting—compelling, even.
In American culture (and this has become fairly common in other cultural traditions—in the West and beyond), we tend to see these things in terms of individual personality. This is flawed, I maintain, and we will examine a number of theorists who are quite nimble in their characterizations of the individual in the complex net of social relationships.
|[b] Nose-to-tail RF|
So...opposites. What do they mean in terms of the way we think about the "what if" question? Part of our very humanity is that we don't know what happens next. This reality lies at the very heart of how we talk about what went right and what did not. Doing the opposite implies dramatic action—a reversal of ordinary thinking. There are implications for this in the religious and philosophical traditions around the world, and this week we will examine three diverse readings that play on this concept.
13 Two faces are alike; neither is funny by itself, but side by side their likeness makes us laugh.
21 If we are too young our judgement is impaired, just as if we are too old.
Thinking too little about things or thinking too much both make us obstinate and fanatical.
If we look at our work immediately after completing it, we are still too involved; if too long afterwards, we cannot pick up the thread again.
It is like looking at pictures that are too near or too far away. There is just one indivisible point which is the right place. Others are too near, too far, too high, or too low. In painting the rules of perspective decide it, but how will it be decided when it comes to truth and morality?
24 Man's condition. Inconstancy, boredom, anxiety.
The Sickness unto Death
Such a relation, which relates to itself, a self, must either have established itself for been established by something else...Such a derived, established relation is the human self, a relation which relates to itself, and in relating to itself relates to something else. That is why there can be two forms of authentic despair. If the human self were self-established, there would only be a question of one form: not wanting to be itself, wanting to be rid of itself...
The Life of the Mind
In the hope of finding out where the thinking ego is located in time and whether its relentless activity can be temporally determined, I shall turn to one of Kafka's parables, which, in my opinion, deals precisely with the matter. The parable is part of a collection of aphorisms entitled "HE."
 Paul Ricoeur, Oneself as Another (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 3.
 Blaise Pascal, Pensées [Transl A.J. Krailsheimer] (New York: Penguin Books, 1995),
 Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death [Transl Alastair Hannay] (New York: Penguin Books, 1989), 43.
 Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind (New York: Harcourt, 1977), 202-203.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind. New York: Harcourt, 1977.
Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness Unto Death [Transl Alastair Hannay]. New York: Penguin Books, 1989.
Pascal, Blaise. Pensees [Transl A.J. Krailsheimer]. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Revised edition.
Ricoeur, Paul. Oneself as Another. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.