Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Somebody Put Poop on the Miracle, Part IV

The idea behind me entitling these last few posts with “somebody put poop on the miracle” is this: I wish to comment upon the nature of the affective transformations which accompanied and partially constitute the event of the Enlightenment… of the particular exchange of values which happened then.

What was offered as the vision of the good life for the European masses before the Enlightenment was a living with the ‘miraculous’ and a ‘miraculous’ thinking – a promise (I will document certain instances where actual promises of the miraculous are made in a major religion, if anyone is interested,) that the beautiful, the wonderful, the saving, and the comforting would be delivered in and through God’s grace.

Pre-Enlightenment Europeans understood themselves literally as God’s children, and expected to be taken care of by their benevolent, divine parent, a parent far more caring and loving than any human one, and a parent requiring no particular mental effort from his children at all.

As Kant said in his response to the question ‘What is Enlightenment?’ posed by the Berlinische Monatschrift, (and as this response was remarked upon by Foucault,) Enlightenment was regarded as a kind of maturation… one gave up (entirely? Did one entirely give up on the ‘miraculous’? No. One gave up on the ‘miraculous’ within certain limits which the Enlightenment thinkers such as Kant labored to define. Beyond those limits, though, the possibility of the ‘miraculous’ persisted, I think.) one’s childish dreams and illusions in order to…

Europeans would give up understanding themselves as God’s children, able to expect God’s care. They would become self-determining.

One gave up a certain sense of warmth and comfort, and took up a kind of disenchanting and desiccated internal laboring… one took up a responsibility for oneself and for ones’ society which feels terrible, burdensome… One imposes upon oneself a ‘despotic discipline’… “a discipline more despotic than the most terrible religion,” to use Michel Foucault’s phrase. That labor would be the cost of self-determination.

On the affective level, though, it was as if one required oneself to give up the miraculous for poop.

Self-determination was a kind of freedom, but the labor required for self-determination, the cost in effort for this kind of freedom, was a kind of onerous slavery.

One would need to be persuaded that this was a good trade, and that one was going to get more than one was giving up. Actually, the nature of this trade, and the way that this trade went down is entirely relevant to what I want to accomplish with my writings here at the Overgrind.

One could mitigate the nature of the trade in various ways… a scientist could attend mass on Sunday morning, for example. This doesn’t matter much. A kind of fundamental change in everyone’s relationship to thinking had taken place. After the ‘Enlightenment,’ Anyone attending church was not attending in the same frame of mind any more. Literally, to attend church had a different meaning.

The tremendous emancipatory potential of the Enlightenment probably never felt very liberating at all.

It really interests me that the ‘Enlightenment’, from beginning to now, has all the character of the ‘anal.’ It’s as if thinking liberated itself from external constraints of certain kinds, only to fall into internal constraints even more egregious. The change in human nature at the time of the Enlightenment, much remarked upon at the time, was a loss of warmth and openness on into something controlling – something wishing beyond all else to control, to have control, to be in control.

There is a tremendous tangle of concepts in this occurrence…

I remember the story of Carl Jung, told in “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” about Jung’s vision of a turd poised to fall from God’s throne (toilet?) on to Basel Cathedral. That Jung finally had the courage to let the turd fall and collapse the cathedral is nearly the perfect symbol of how Jung conceives of release from repression.

I guess Jung leaves a big turd on Basel cathedral, though. I never understood precisely how Jung reconciled that with everything else he has to say about the sacred and the mystical, or if such a reconciliation exists as a problem for Jung about Jung’s own thinking.

I am interested in making something like that a problem for my own thinking. I want to go in to this territory with my cutting torch and my welding torch and reconfigure the connections which are being made. In a word: I want to release the emancipatory forces of the event of Enlightenment from the excretory, anal, and controlling forces with which these emancipatory forces have been combined and thus ruined.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Somebody Put Poop on the Miracle, Part III

Every conversation is taking place either in the hallways of North Texas State University, or in a mirrored room outside of Paris, or in a very high-tech television studio, or in the garden of Gethsemane, or on the hill of Golgotha. You need to know my territories if you are going to be able to schizoanalyze me. There is no hope in ‘following’ me… I can’t even follow myself….

Maggot: (quoting the American poet, Richard Brautigan) “ Baudelaire was driving a Model A across Galilee. He picked up a hitch-hiker named Jesus who had been standing among a school of fish, feeding them pieces of bread. ‘ Where are you going?’ asked Jesus, getting into the front seat. ‘Anywhere, anywhere out of this world!’ shouted Baudelaire. ‘ I’ll go as far as Golgotha,’ said Jesus. ‘I have a concession at the carnival there, and I must not be late.(1)”

Ma Belle: “ However, modernity for Baudelaire is not simply a form of relationship to the present; it is also a mode of relationship that has to be established with oneself. The deliberate attitude of modernity is tied to an indispensable asceticism. To be modern is not to accept oneself as one is in the flux of the passing moments; it is to take oneself as object of a complex and difficult elaboration: what Baudelaire, in the vocabulary of his day, calls dandysme. Here I shall not recall in detail the well-known passage on ‘vulgar, earthy, vile nature’; on man’s indispensable revolt against himself; on the ‘doctrine of elegance’ which imposes ‘ upon its ambitious and humble disciples’ a discipline more despotic than the most terrible religions; the pages, finally, on the asceticism of the dandy who makes of his body, his behavior, his feelings and passions, his very existence, a work of art. Modern man, for Baudelaire, is not the man who goes off to discover himself, his secrets and his hidden truth; he is the man who tries to invent himself. This modernity does not ‘liberate man in his own being; it compels him to face the task of producing himself.(2)”

Maggot: “Baudelaire was sitting in a doorway with a wino on San Francisco’s skidrow. The wino was a million years old and could remember dinosaurs. Baudelaire and the wino were drinking Petri Muscatel, ‘One must always be drunk,’ said Baudelaire. ‘ I live in the American Hotel’ said the wino. ‘And I can remember dinosaurs.’ ‘Be you drunken ceaselessly,’ said Baudelaire.(3)”

Ma Belle: “ In any case, I think that, just as we must free ourselves from the intellectual blackmail of ‘ being for or against the Enlightenment,’ we must escape from the historical and moral confusionism that mixes the theme of humanism with the question of the Enlightenment. An analysis of their complex relations in the course of the last two centuries would be a worthwhile project… We have to move beyond the outside-inside alternative; we have to be at the frontiers. Criticism indeed consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits. But if the Kantian question was that of knowing what limits knowledge has to renounce transgressing, it seems to me that the critical question today has to be turned back into a positive one: in what is given to us as universal, necessary, obligatory, what place is occupied by whatever is singular, contingent, and the product of arbitrary constraints? The point, in brief, is to transform the critique conducted in the form of necessary limitation into a practical critique that takes the form of a possible transgression….This entails an obvious consequence: that criticism is no longer going to be practiced in the search for formal structures with universal value, but rather as a historical investigation into the events that have led us to constitute ourselves and to recognize ourselves as subjects of what we are doing, thinking, saying…(4)”

Maggot: ( addressing the klieg lights in the empty television studio) : “ Lacan psycho-analyzed psycho-analysis…. Can I schizo-analyze schizo-analysis? Ma Belle has mentioned the asceticism of the modern need to produce oneself…an asceticism more restrictive than that imposed by the most terrible demands of religion…. Doesn’t that jar with the way I understand myself and what I am doing? I refuse to relinquish this project of producing subjectivity… I refuse to accept that it is ascetic or restrictive.”

(1),(3) – The Galilee Hitchhiker, Part I, and The American Hotel, Part 2, by Richard Brautigan, from The Pill Versus The Springhill Mining Disaster, 1968.

(2),(4) – What is Enlightenment, by Michel Foucault, from The Foucault Reader, Paul Rabinow, editor, 1984

Monday, September 25, 2006

Somebody Put Poop on the Miracle, Part II

I want to know the difference between universalization, totalization, and what the process of identity thinking accomplishes.

Somebody Put Poop on the Miracle, Part I

Maggot: “I don’t know how to create a concept. Let me put this bluntly: not knowing how to create a concept means I also do not know anything about ‘becomings’ and ‘affect’. I am putting my cards out on the table: I have none.”

Cyber-boy: “We’re going to play the hand we are dealt. You were dealt a bad hand – we are going to make that hand a winner.”

Father Gilliam: “Deal me in.”

Maggot: “ If I create a concept, I demand that I further the great genius of western civilization – purely and simply: universalization. I also demand this, and I want both: that the fact of class conflict is seen as exactly that – a fact. I want universalization, and I want it to take into account class conflict. Let me be honest: is this such a difficult demand for me to place on my thought? Surely this is not insurmountable for thinking, or is it?”

Cyber-boy: “If you are to call concept creation invention, you’ll rally every capitalist in the ‘system’, in the ‘body with organs’ to your aid. That could be very,very good for the pocket book, you know.”

Father Gilliam: “The concept is not a harmonization. It does INCLUDE conflict, contradiction, NOISE, and what ‘doesn’t fit’…”

Maggot: “Thank God.”

Friday, September 22, 2006


Phlegmatico: ( Clearing his throat): “ Maggot, it would be so much nicer for us if you would go Orphic. You know that routine? Mythical and romantic and mystical, freighted with tradition; in other words… predictable, but still cool. If a person is going to be different, we insist they be different in a way that’s identifiable, ya know? You haven’t been in compliance, and under section 3.0031 code 4.403, I am issuing you this citation for being ‘weird without precedence.’ If you want to be weird, Maggot, we provide you with dozens of ways to do that and still be acceptable to all. You know we do… What’s gotten into you?”

Maggot: “I’m out of ammo...You got me, where’s Pussy? I have a general feeling of weariness right now… maybe because I really do need to assemble some important explanations for what I’m doing here in the Unenlightened Overgrind, and I don’t want to put in the effort. Actually, I don’t deserve the ‘weirdness without precedence’ designation….Yet. I’ll take it as high honor if I ever do get it… I’ll serve the time as a badge of glory….”

Phlegmatico: “What kinds of things did you want to explain? Maybe I can help you.”

Maggot: “Well, first of all, I wanted to let it be known that I haven’t abandoned the attempt to understand how to create concepts. All of this recent stuff here in the Overgrind has been a continuation of that ambition… I really think it’s been worth the while… You see, what interests me is that unless there is real care, all of the old BS which Father Gilliam tried so hard to get rid of comes flooding back in as soon as ‘concept creation’ gets mentioned. The concept retains all its old associations with the signifier and continues to be seen as some sort of ‘unified thing’… this is devastating to the project of reconceptualizing the concept. Also, and I think this is equally important,the ‘creation’ part of ‘concept creation’ invites the return of all of the old associations of agency which, in their unmodified forms, really do not belong to the schizophrenic processes within this notion of 'creation.'

"Try this: think CONCEPT but do not think IDENTITY. This is hard. But what I’ve been doing over the last few months can’t make any sense to anyone unless they try this experiment. If they try the experiment, I think they’ll get a better idea of what I’m doing nowadays.”

Maggot: (once more ): “ I have a deep fondness for the Orphic routines. I’m always flattered when people read into me more than is there. But honestly, I eschew this. As I see it, there is something going on in these comments at the Overgrind; something really is happening. I do need people who are willing to extend me a little tolerance and try to discern what that is… I want them to know that I am not playing any Orphic games.”

Phlegmatico: “ Yes, but you do try the patience of very tolerant and very intelligent people.”

Maggot: “ I know I do, and for that, I am sorry.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Anti Oedipus ( O Anti Édipo )

The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Hebrew: עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע) will throw our hero to a deterritorialization field and a possibility of a life beyond Eden.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A (BwO)el Movement: In Prhmpaahs and Hramampaahs

Cyber-boy: “I have no choice but to defend those principles of human societies which erect strict boundaries around those areas where play and enjoyment may responsibly take place. If you want to play, go to a playground or a playpen or an art department…. But if you want to do work, or brain surgery, or undertake any activity which may seriously impact the life of anyone else, which involves you acting responsibly-- then for goodness sake, leave the playground and get serious and remember that you’ll be able to take your pleasure and personal happiness at a later time.”

Maggot: “On which side of these boundaries does philosophy belong, Cyber-boy? Is philosophy play or work? Or both? If both, how am I to understand that?”

Cyber-boy: “It could be both if you erected, within philosophy, boundaries between the serious stuff and the playful stuff. For example, the boundary between the ‘anglo-american’ and the ‘continental’ could be understood as such a boundary. For the hardheaded and the intelligent, there is the ‘anglo-american’ side of things, and for the weak, namby-pamby, and effeminate, who need softer material to work with, there is the ‘continental.’ But whether this is a good boundary or not, I am not so sure. The point is -- and I want to keep to the point…. Play has its place, and it is fine in that place. Outside of that place, however, it is a big disaster. When you want to take play out of its place and beyond its limits, Maggot, you are simply acting ( thinking) irresponsibly. ”

Monday, September 18, 2006

A (BwO)el Movement: In Aahhs and Oomphs

Maggot: “To play with ideas… everyone ( and I do mean everyone ) will acknowledge that to play with ideas has some important place in the life of society and in the life of the world.”

Cyber-boy: “So… What is the problem? Where does the problem lie?”

Maggot: “The problem lies here… we can ‘play’ with ideas so long as we restrict ourselves to that carefully demarcated realm of experience known to us all as the ‘aesthetic.’ If we ever, ever, ventured from that realm, that realm of the ‘aesthetic’ on into the realm of the ‘ethical’ and continued to ‘ play with ideas,’ we would soon be met with acrimony, chastisement, and imprisonment.”

Cyber-boy: “Most certainly, we would. But I have to ask: is there any way that you can show that to ‘play with ideas’ within the realm of the ethical is anything less than irresponsible and deplorable – anything less than something to be abhorred and condemned, and rightfully so? Rightfully so because, in this ‘playing’, in this quote unquote ‘innocent’ ‘playing’- there are victims… people become harmed.”

Cyber-boy: ( beginning to rant): There is not an intriguing ‘becoming minor’ or a ‘becoming animal’ or a becoming woman’ in this kind of play – there is a becoming harmed, a becoming maimed, and a becoming dead. There is nothing fun or funny about any of it. Society must condemn this… It is by necessity that society does what it does… does not allow ‘play’ in this realm.

Maggot: “Hold on one second…”

But Maggot gets cut off….

Friday, September 15, 2006

A (BwO)el Movement: In Frths and Ffths

Maggot: “I’ve thought about it… and I won’t make my comments in Unenlightened Overgrind any less schizophrenic. You see, the objective all of this is to use schizophrenic processes, to increase libidinous voltages into schizophrenic processing to PUMP UP this shizo-processing as much as possible.... In other words, there is going to be more schizophrenic processing in the future here, not less.”

Cyber-boy: “I don’t see how this can be even the slightest bit productive or constructive, or even healthy.”

Maggot: “I know you don’t, boy. It would be nice if we could examine just to what extent your (and my) view of what is productive, constructive, and healthy has been conditioned by forces which do everything possible to ensure that we are NOT productive, constructive, or ( particularly) healthy. Then we could see whether or not it is the case that I am wasting my time here.”

Maggot: ( after slight pause) : " It tends to be forgotten that in their plateau on morality, Deleuze and Guattari ( or is it just Deleuze? I don't feel Guattari's influence in this,) call their main character ' Professor Challenger, after the Conan Doyle character who wished to make the earth scream with pain; that in the influential Foucauldian essay about the Enlightenment, from which Dr. Spinoza has presumably taken inspiration for this blog, Baudelaire, not Kant or Voltaire or some famous 'philosophe', is taken as the paradigmatic figure; that Nietzsche speaks of explosions, of destructions, of dangers, and these are not mitigated ( by Nietzsche ) with some divine, transcendental, foreknowledge of these explosions, destructions, and dangers being, in the end and ultimately... creative. Nietzsche may speak of 'the innocence of becoming' , but this 'innocence of becoming' comforting or reassuring? Who finds it so?"

Cyber-boy: “I think your idea that the best strategy for bringing on a revolution of capitalism by finding a way to outpace, to ‘out-schizophrenize’, the massive and expedient processes of schizophrenization of capitalism itself has fallen by the wayside in this conversation. It would be important to remember that to do this is part of what you had in mind when you started off in this direction, what with the dialogues and being in the television studio and all.”

Maggot: “Yes, thanks for reminding everyone. It is of the utmost importance that the bourgeois concepts of freedom and agency are modified and transformed by the Deleuzian concept of ‘body without organs’ ( BwO) … the deployment of (BwO) embodies a significant, if seemingly outlandish, critique of these vital notions... but which part of (BwO) is the signficant part? Its outlandishness, or its critical rationality? How could they coexist? And with this, how could Deleuze, Foucault, or Nietzsche, ever be recuperated by the academy?”

Monday, September 11, 2006

Impacted (BwO)el: A Suppository Interlude

Maggot: “The Enlightenment thinkers created alternatives to the following values and methods, which had predominated in Europe for many centuries:

1. Introspection, as a way of being and a source of knowing, as the integral and essential way of experiencing, and of being and living ones’ self as self.

2. The willingness to spend ones’ life in the attempt to change human nature and ones’ own nature… The attempt to mold oneself, perfect oneself, as the essential human project. “Working on oneself” as the essential form for producing knowledge about oneself.

3. The attempt at totalization… of the self, of knowledge, of society or the social structure… totalization understood in terms of such projects as the creation of encyclopedias and universities, the conception and creation of the modern STATE, the conception of any one human individual as a ‘master,’.... or, incredibly, the conception of any one human individual as a 'subject.' The intellectual as a totalizer... the Universal and pursuit of the Universal as an effort of totalization... working to create a totalization, as essential form, project of producing knowledge.

I see each of these as related to each of the others, reinforcing the others. I also think that any return to these, for example a return to introspection as a way of being or of creating knowledge, is a counter-enlightenment move."

Maggot (going a bit further ): “ I am attempting to disclose each of these as repressive, and what I am seeking is a technology of the self, a way of acting upon the self or others-- a way to produce, transform, and manipulate subjectivity and subjectivization-- which is not repressive. I would like to show that, contrary to all appearances, what I am seeking is an extension of the Enlightenment project and not a rejection of it.”

Cyber-boy: “ You are also interested in the relationship of repression of the individual and the existence of domination within society…. In showing how both exist and continue as dominant forms at least in part because, even to this late date of history, no workable psycho-technic or socio-technic alternatives to repression or domination have been conceived.”

Maggot: “ Thanks, Cyber-boy. That is also what I am interested in doing.”

Cyber-boy: “ What do you make of this tendency to see as the essential Enlightenment stance the valorization of rationality above all else? Is it possible to have a practice of rationality but without the particular “ascetic cost to oneself ( self) ” so firmly associated with rationality ? Is or is it not, this timbre of somberness, of detachment, of the morose, in other words – the ‘affect of the enlightenment’ a part of the enlightenment project per se?”

Maggot: “ You see, Cyber-boy, this ascetic cost one charges to ones’ emotions, to ones’ feeling of being alive, etc. when one 'practices rationality,' when one ‘thinks’ and when one wishes to be appreciated for thinking – these are part of the mysterious counter-flow to the Enlightenment which turn the emancipatory practices of the Enlightenment into quite the opposite. They MUST NOT be seen as essential elements of intelligence or thinking or ‘being good.’ Creation of rationality, and not ‘rationality itself,’ (if there is such a thing as ‘rationality itself’ – I don’t think there is,) is the enlightenment project. Really asking: what are these breaks in the creation of rationality, which cause rationality to become a THING (of some sort) rather than continuing to be a process. Kant created rationality-assemblages … several centuries have lapsed since the creation of other rationality-assemblages. Why?

Father Gilliam: "Breaking of some associations ( connections ) and the creating of others – concept creation. What we are trying to break are the connection of the “ ascetic cost to oneself” to the practices of rationality. We are not trying to break rationality itself… but then again, we do not believe in the existence of a 'rationality itself.' "

Friday, September 08, 2006

Desiring Machines versus Repression, Part II

I don’t believe it is possible to mistake the serious intent of a naked man in a pink feather boa, heavily puffing on a cigarette.

No one was in the television studio except for me, Pussy L’Amour, and the television crew.

The place was strewn with masses of television equipment – cables, light sources arrayed on the walls and ceilings, cameras, including mobile camera equipment on cranes and motorized seats, tracks, audio recorders, and a very large assortment of stuff I don’t even know the general name for.

Pussy was in his element here.

He was walking around admiring the complexity of it all, smoking, and he was “On.” He was turned on. He was plugged in. He was ready to go. He was ready to operate. He was ready to produce. I was glad of that, because there was a great deal that I wanted to ask him about. I also wanted to see what he’d do.

Maggot: “It’s the drama of the place, isn’t it? I mean, it’s dark in here, and mysterious kind of like a cave or a medieval cathedral… Here it is, the sacred and the profane, in one place and time…”

Pussy L’Amour: “ Mystery, schmistery… Maggot, come on. This place is a desiring machine, pure and simple. Look at all this. This gadgetry, this circuitry. These devices for provoking and circulating affect and emotion and for making a world, and for making un-named concepts…”

Maggot: “Yeah, that’s funny. All of my literary and artistic friends who love the cinema and who hate the technical of any kind… they would come into a place like this, a movie or television studio like this, and would feel the electrical mystery of it… and would literally ignore the machinic element here. They love the movies as dancing visions free of the material dimension… I guess it would spoil it for them, even, if they had to contend with what’s going on behind the scenes, in the production of these dancing images.”

Pussy L’Amour: “ I had nothing to do with Gilliam’s cinema books, but clearly Gilliam didn’t hate theater per se. What he disliked, I think, was this attitude of your friends… which exhibits the most thorough-going REPRESSION known to humanity… to consume ‘flicks’ and ‘flickerings’ in silence and solitude in the dark and to not reconnect them, ever, and to deny even the manner or even the fact of the flickerings' production… that they are produced...”