Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Matter of Truth, the Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part VI

I’m going to record a few points of clarification regarding how I wish to apply my “ geology of repression” methodology to this map I have found which interests me:

“Truth matters to me, and I have the fundamental fantasy that it matters to everyone else as well. That's what bothers me so much, I think. I'm the victim of my own desire."

1. The maps are a mapping of forces – of force fields.

2. All forces are to be understood as being exterior – as exteriorities. ( In other words, not as interior to something – interior to some magical shield which makes their measurement impossible in principle.)

3. All forces are at work at the surface. (This may be regarded as corollary to point number 2.)

4. The forces are asubjectival: the do not originate from a subject, a genius, an author. In fact, they don’t “originate.”

5. I will be translating my map from its locus of association at (or from) a gentleman named Levi Bryant, code named “ Sinthome,” onto a non-localized field which I will designate SxIyNzThome(0,1,0).

6. I translate my own “I” from its locus in my self-understanding as blog collaborator at the Enlightenment Underground onto a nonlocalized field which I will henceforth designate as Y(p)U(q)S(r)ef(1,0,0).

7. As these mappings and translations are for the development of a concept of exteriority, asubjectivality, surface, social-politicality, and nonlocality, I do not want to retain any further association between this concept and the concept “repression.” I will be calling my new concept of methodology, “geological smashmouth.”

Smashmouth, Now!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Matter of Truth, the Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part V

In the last portion,( Part IV ), of this inquiry, I was forced to return to talking about people, subjects, perceptions, or points of view, or ideologies, because I didn’t think the problem I wished to address with my comments about “worlds worlding” could be intelligible to others unless I talked a bit more extensively about one problem of rationality: whether all rationality and practices of rationality imply an ontological monism, or whether there can be a rationality, or practices of rationality, which are pluralistic.

Now, I want to show that there are connections between things I’ve mentioned in other sections of the inquiry, (Parts I to IV), and in the rest of the blog in general, in order to better outline where I think these ideas can go.

To make all of the connections I think are necessary will probably require many more postings.

A theme of the Enlightenment Underground has been to find out how we can responsibly ask the question of what it means to say that we desire our own repression. We’ve tried to show that treating this theme in a more sophisticated and comprehensive way could be important to making the repetition, with difference, of the Enlightenment event.

This in mind, I wanted to examine what is happening in this quotation from Sinthome’s blog, Larval Subjects:

“Truth matters to me, and I have the fundamental fantasy that it matters to
everyone else as well. That's what bothers me so much, I think. I'm the victim
of my own desire."

There is some marvelous resonance here with the theme we are trying to develop: of the desiring of one’s own repression. I believe that following these resonances will give us a few clues to answer the questions of why we do so.

When I first used this quotation,( in part I ), I knew that I was using it in such a way that it would appear that I was bringing into “court” a bit of hard evidence to render and justify a verdict of “ authoritarian personality” ( or narcissist) for which the defendant would be punished by exposure to cackling, demonic, and passive aggressive, remote laughter.

Maybe some part of me wanted it to be that way, and maybe it’s better for me not to deny that. However, I think I better understand now what I really want to do: I want to take this statement by Sinthome as a mapping of forces – and I want to look at that map and those forces – which DO NOT map onto a subject, an author named Sinthome, as either concept – subject, author- is typically conceived. There is no judging or finding of guilt, or handing down of verdicts (or labels, medical or ‘diagnostic’ labels), no matter how well considered. I want the map to show what’s NOT REALLY THERE. ( And I do not think such a demonstration has anything to do with ‘judgment.’)

This way of working has a great deal in common with what I was trying to explore as a methodology, earlier, when I was writing about the “geology of repression.”

In Sinthome’s quote, I see the collision of two major tectonic plates: one, of what wants to be critical rationality, and the other one, which wants to be a communicative rationality. " Truth matters to me" is the tectonic plate of critical rationality; the rest of the quotation represents the tectonic plate of communicative rationality.

The plates smash together, with subduction and friction.

There is a big tension ridge formed – a geographical feature – and there’s been a big earthquake, too, big enough to cause the ground to shake for centuries.

This same collision is mapped in Dr. Spinoza ( and in myself and in everyone.... I'm alleging this.)

His slogan for this blog, “the ruthless criticism of everything existing,” feels to me something like a challenge to himself, that he be faithful to the demands of his critical rationality. ( Note the harsh affect, always present, in the expression of the demands of the critical rationality: “ ruthlessness.”) However, Dr. Spinoza’s genius really resides in his communicative rationality, for which this “ruthlessness” is utterly foreign and inimical. Therefore, shortly into the blog, Dr. Spinoza begins to desire that there be a kind of “fallibilistic” practice of thought, but what “ruthless” critical thinker would wish for that?

See, there’s really nothing in between.

That’s what I see on the map so far. We think there is something between, and we speak and act as if there is, but there isn’t.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Matter of Truth, the Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part IV


I guess I lied when I said I won’t be messing around any further talking about people, subjects, perceptions, or points of view, or ideologies.

I have to back up a bit because I want to resituate the problem I am trying to develop.

I haven't been very clear about what that problem is and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that no one even understood that I am working on a problem here.

In discussing what I have called ‘metaphysical aristocratism’ what I am trying to get at is a flaw between the way our rationality works and the way our politics work, even though any politics existing which function for us function as a rationality.

Aristocracy doesn’t function rationally, but a democracy must function rationally or cease in short order to be a democracy.

But what is rationality, and isn’t it odd, if rationality is so important, that our feel for what it is remains so flimsy?

We can't answer what rationality is.

What if there is more than one type of rationality? What if there are thousands or even an infinite number of types of rationality?

Can rationality be multiple and still be rationality?

I am especially appreciative at this moment of William James’ work and recommend, if anyone is with me here, that they take a look at the book “A Pluralistic Universe.” I think that the simple fact that it was an American and an American pragmatist who was working on these problems is worth remarking on.

Maybe the problem of rationality can be described as an incommensurability between what members of the Frankfurt School have distinguished as critical rationality and communicative rationality.

(In making this distinction, I assume that the Frankfurt School thinkers have taken the position that there can be more than one type of rationality: they must think that there can be at least two. In taking that position, I think they have already made a very significant move, and it is not that clear to me whether they realized the implications of this very significant move.)

From the perspective of a critical rationality, a communicative rationality seems flaky and wishy-washy, and from the perspective of a communicative rationality, critical rationality appears to give rise to harshness, strife, judgmentalism and other socially-corrosive behavior, and is stifling and shuts down creativity and productivity.

(Its affect is terrible… it can be demonstrated to destroy human relations rather than foster them.)

From the point of view of either, the other isn’t satisfactorily rational. Somehow, they deny each others' rationality.

We can’t do without elements from both critical or communicative rationality, but even if considered only elementally, bit by bit, these elements clash with each other and within each of us, and our standard strategies for dealing with this aren’t adequate, considered from one vantage point or the other.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Matter of Truth, the Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part III

I won’t be messing around any further talking about people, subjects, perceptions, or points of view, or ideologies.

I’m going to move forward to get to the good and grand stuff: I am going to conceive of everything as a world. As a world which is worlding. A flower, a bug, a Republican, a Nazi, a mote of dust, a text – these are not objects or subjects- these are each worlds and what they are each doing is worlding.

Worlds worlding.

They are worlding along.

All of these worlds do not somehow occupy a common world, which world would be the world we commonly refer to as ‘the world.’ Nor do these infinite worlds form a collectivity which we would commonly call ‘the universe.’

These worlds do not have something between all of them which is the same, which something we would call ‘universal.’

These worlds are different.

It might be that there are elements in common in some very large subset of these worlds. For example, it might be that one would find objects called ‘dogs’ in an enormous number of these worlds, if one were to compare the contents of worlds. One might find the content ‘dog’ in every world one examined.

Common elements wouldn’t make worlds the same. Each world has some difference from other worlds. Any difference between worlds would make worlds be completely different.

How so?

Um, er, ah…. Can I use Leibniz here? Indiscernability of the identical? If it isn’t different, it is identical? If it isn’t different, it is not another world one is seeing? You wouldn’t discern it as another world if it wasn’t different. Or have I drifted into circularity here? ( Or misunderstanding?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Matter of Truth, The Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part II

“Metaphysical dogmatism holds that the world has some real and essential structure which is fully knowable by human beings (even if they need assistance from divine revelation). There is a single and correct Way that the World Is. The only debate between scientism and fundamentalism is over how the Structure of the World is to be discovered: through systematic experimentation and quantification, or through authoritarian interpretation of divine revelation.” - Dr. Spinoza, from this blog in a post titled, “Fundamentalism and Scientism,” dated March 28, 2006

In contrast to what Dr. Spinoza has termed "metaphysical dogmatism," I want to propose that there is a metaphysical stance which I wish to call "metaphysical aristocratism."

"Metaphysical aristocratism" would hold that the world has some real and essential structure which, while not fully knowable by human beings, could be known in one BEST manner by some, who, in possessing this BEST manner, would be the BEST knowers, or BEST intellects.

The crucial distinction between Dr. Spinoza's "metaphysical dogmatism" and my "metaphysical aristocratism" rests in a difference between the dogmatism's notion of there being only ONE CORRECT " Way that the World Is,' and aristocratism's notion of there being ONE BEST "Way of Worlding."

While it would not be necessary within "metaphysical aristocratism" to assume that there was one single and correct "Way that the World Is," it would be assumed that among several or even an infinite number of correct "Ways that the World Is," there would be one BEST "Way of Worlding," ( or BEST knowledge of the Ways,) at any given historical time, even though it would not be necessary for a metaphysical aristocratist to assume that this BEST way would not or could not be superceded in the future, as a matter of progress.

Proponents or holders of the doctrine of "metaphysical aristocratism" would acknowledge the existence of the other "Ways of Worlding," but would be working at all times to achieve the BEST "Way of Worlding." In the case of a conflict between different "Ways of Worlding," a metaphysical aristocratist would expect that the BEST " Way of Worlding" be given priority, and anything less than priority for the BEST would be considered by them to be irrational, or stupid, or injust and unethical - wrong ( because the BEST is the BEST.)

A metaphysical aristocratist would tolerate other "Ways of Worlding" in much the way that a European aristocrat would have more or less tolerated those who were not aristocrats. That is, there would be toleration - and condescension- and an implicit, or unstated, expectation in all relations that the inferior to the BEST will, naturally, step down and aside... That this stepping down and aside by the inferior of the BEST is a rational state of affairs.

I want to get out into the open about "metaphysical aristocratism" because I am afraid that our criticism as posted on the blog presupposes such a doctrine in some way, even if we aren’t very honest about that, or are maybe unconscious of the influence of such a presupposition.

I think that Nietzsche is a "metaphysical aristocratist" and that his mark on my thinking and attitudes has not at all times been commodious to me.

I want to know whether ‘truth’ as we are accustomed to think of it on the blog could be thought of as ‘best’ knowledge.

We know that our ‘truth’ is incomplete and fallible, but as we have nothing better than our 'best' knowledge, this incompleteness and fallibility almost doesn’t, or maybe can’t, matter.

I posed the existence of a stance of a "metaphysical aristcratism," as if I was neutral on it, but I’ve already taken a side : I think it exists as an ideology, a pernicious one, and its subsisting is a more virulent problem than even metaphysical dogmatism.

“Against both, I want to hold out a plea for what Putnam (following Goodman) could call "internal realism", or for what Hakim Bey -- working out of entirely different styles, techniques, and traditions, calls "ontological anarchy": there is no single and correct way that the world is.

There are only many different ways. Scientific theories are, indeed, one way that the world is. Poetry and art are another. Music and literature are a way the world is. And so too are religion and philosophy.”
– Dr. Spinoza, from the same post, above.

We could have sympathy and appreciation for all of "the Ways the World is," Dr. Spinoza has listed in his post, but if we hold to the principle of ‘metaphysical aristocratism’ , it almost doesn’t matter.... We will trivialize and subordinate these other "Ways the World is," even if we sincerely try to be gracious.

The BEST is what really matters, and wins out.

In a way, this is what I see happening…. Art, poetry, music and literature have our sympathy, but it isn’t our sympathy which sustains them…And it can't save them from playing a merely decorative or recreational role in our lives and society.

They persist in the form of industrial design and catchy features for advertisement and marketing and capturing trade ; they are subordinated and assigned a function which functions for furthering something else.

The BEST rules the rest, and seemingly by right, even as if by natural right.

It is this domination, and short circuiting of any give and take, by the 'BEST' which is a philosophical problem and a the political problem and a political problem which persists, even if we make room in our world for as many ways of worlding as we can.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Matter of Truth, The Matter of Matter: Which Matters More? Part I

“Truth matters to me, and I have the fundamental fantasy that it matters to everyone else as well. That's what bothers me so much, I think. I'm the victim of my own desire."- Sinthome, of Larval Subjects

I would suffer too if I thought that truth was a thing which matters, or matters most, and that it was necessary that truth’s mattering most be recognized by everyone, but that in my devotion to the truth of the matter, I could see that truth did not matter to everyone…

Something which mattered to me and which more importantly was necessary to matter, but which mattering was not appertaining…A not appertaining of necessity would necessarily lead to disaster or catastrophe or hardship or tragedy of some sort, at some time, for some people, or perhaps for all, as a collective fate.

I would see disaster coming, and I would suffer anxiety.

I would be a victim of my presentiment because I would suffer it: seeing an impending fall, but being unable to prevent it, I would sweat and sorrow.

I am not sure, however, whether any of this has anything to do with what Sinthome is trying to express in the few sentences I’ve quoted, above.

What fascinates me in these sentences is not one desire which is expressed as a ‘fundamental fantasy’ but the nexus of desires which are being subsumed under the heading of ‘fundamental fantasy.’

I want to take these apart and look at them, if I can.

The process by which I do this may be cold and callous, because as a matter of fact, I do not care overly much what it was that Sinthome, as an individual, might have been trying to get across. What I want to get at is the extra-individual assemblage I intuit is present, with these bold conjunctions which are, from my point of view, smashing things together in a way which I would never believe they belong together.

“Truth matters to me AND I have the fundamental fantasy…”

“Truth matters to me AND I have the fundamental fantasy,” – because it would be a fantasy, and demonstrably so, to believe that the truth matters to everyone, and therefore, anyone believing that truth matters to everyone is fantasizing? And that fantasy is the fundamental one, why? Because it is so shocking and jarring and alarming when one learns the truth of the matter?

There’s a political program and strategy implicit in Sinthome’s words.

If it is truth which matters, and is necessary to matter, and if it doesn’t matter to everyone, what we need to do politically, what must be done, is to get truth to matter to everyone.

This would be a spiritual reform…of some sort, and most likely coercive. Someone please explain to me how it could be conceived otherwise.