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


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