Saturday, July 22, 2006

Geology of Repression Part II

The idea here is to desecrate the tomb of Freud.

If we can desecrate the tomb of Deleuze while we’re at it, that’ll be extra, and we’ll demand extra recompense, too… maybe we’ll get that hefty year-end bonus, complete with questionably-legal options, heaped on.

Philosophy not only needs to bake bread, and make pants, but it also needs to pay a dividend.

Philosophy is hard work.

Desecration is hard work – hazardous, too.

It teeters and tweeters between comedy and tragedy, and sometimes it falls violently into the void…

We all know that when we take on risk, we must ask for extra benefit. When was the last time that a good desecrator’s bio made the pages of the New York Times business section?

Where is our extra benefit?

We won’t strike for these extra demands, but we will halt reality unless they are met.

Meet these demands. Our neurosis won’t wait.

We know that you think our neurosis is a trivial matter. Our psychosis? Even more trivial. And yet, we have observed you carefully with our detail-absorbing eyes every time we’ve begun thinking and twitching upon our favorite subjects: ethics and aesthetics.

We don’t know a damned thing about ethics and aesthetics. Don’t care to know a damned thing about them, either. We just really, really like it when we innocently and naively make statements about them, and you get very, very upset.

You can’t really believe that we are speaking with authority about ethics and aesthetics… we’ve consistently done every damned thing we could think to do or to say to discourage such a belief… we speak upon ethics and aesthetics as idiots, unabashed drooling and gibbering idiots, and we do not disguise this. You think there is a grounds for being upset at idiot’s gibbering? Why?

Give us the money… but we won’t stop gibbering.

At the very least, we won’t need to worry so much about the planet, and its human and nonhuman occupants – we’ve received such a disproportionate slice of the pie that worrying about anything other than how we’ll spend that slice ceases to be of interest. ( Though it does earn interest – amazing Prior to desecrating tombs, I was more interested, but earning less interest, and I was unfulfilled. )

Lacan can be the villain of the piece.

We can have him desecrating the tomb of Freud, slinking off, and then praising Deleuze copiously; then getting scared by just how far Deleuze goes; Lacan intended Freud’s tomb to be desecrated, but with decorum…. Deleuze isn’t scatological, so he doesn’t smear shit on Freud’s place of rest, but isn’t sweet, or dulce, with what he does to it either.

Freud’s tomb had settled into the sediment.

It was not sad.

Freud’d been born old; he’d been born with both hands upon the wheel; his petal’d pedal to the medal’d metal; by his own reckoning, he himself could never qualify as a very good “ analyst.” He hadn’t been laid enough… that meant that he’d never be a good ‘lay’ analyst… the only kind that matters.

Freud’s tomb belongs in the sediment… …..Being there in the sediment now is “just so.”

Yeah, right.

It’s all a tumbling mess. We aren’t going to award options for a tumbling mess. Where are you going? You mean that life is a fine tumbling mess? That we must award options for either life or death? Which’ll it be… desecrate Freud’s tomb, or earn interest?

Gotcha, Lacan!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


"I" am a lobster.

"I" do this:

" Every stratum operates this way: by grasping in its pincers a maximum number of intensities or intensive particles over which it spreads its forms and substances, constituting determinate gradients and thresholds of resonance ( deterritorialization on a stratum always occurs in relation to a complementary reterritorialization.)" - D-G, ATP, page 54.

Besides, I was very disappointed that my nice lobster picture didn't show up with the blog post I just published - that was unacceptable. So here it is.

The Geology of Repression, Part I

I want to resume our discussion of how it would be possible to speak responsibly of desiring of one’s own repression.

It has been asserted in a very covert and unexamined way at the Enlightenment Underground that the process of “desiring one’s own repression” is at the heart of the worst manifestations of politics and political economy, but is it? Can we know that it is? We haven’t ever really been very specific about what we even mean by this little phrase – and I think it is time that we start taking some steps to be specific.

I take the “desiring of one’s own repression” to mean that one is engaged in processes of production which do not further one’s own flourishing, but rather inhibit it.

Immediately, though, there are problems.

How does one know what is or is not one’s own flourishing? I might consider driving at 100 mph to get to work as quickly as possible to be in furtherance of my own flourishing, and the laws which say that I can’t do that legally, and will be punished if I’m caught, to be inhibitions of that flourishing. Stepping back a moment, though, and I’ll have reasons to reconsider: I doubt that I’ll consider driving at 100 mph to be for my own flourishing if I’m in an accident doing that, or if I cause someone else to have an accident…. Upon which, they might very well consider as the furtherance of their own flourishing to punch me in the face.

So, I have to modify this little formula to take into consideration physical and social realities of a myriad nature that act upon what I want or think or do in any real situation. I have to acknowledge – to think and to reflect - that my desire to speed may provide momentary gratification but at some great risk to my health and well-being; that I live in a society with other members who have every bit as much right to the furtherance of their own flourishing as I do, and that I cannot wantonly inhibit their flourishing without potential for damaging reactions.

Here, I can pause for a moment and note that in our taking up of this little bromide, “ desiring one’s own repression,” we are hiding from ourselves very basic and elementary considerations of political thinking… it is as if we are using the phrase to beg off of the most rudimentary political and ethical questions.

Maybe ‘repression’ is the restraint and limitation placed on oneself which is in excess of any reasonable demand of restraint and limitation placed on oneself by nature and society.

Yes, maybe. But this sort of definition contains so much wiggling around room that it is by and large worthless. Is there any way to determine where the demands and restraints placed upon me by nature and society become excessive?

I think that democratic societies deal with that issue all of the time and are constantly deciding whether or not this or that imposed requirement is too much and needs to be altered. The excessive restraints and limitations imposed by nature also seem to be lifted and made less onerous by the progress of technology – so there does seem to be some real sense in which these demands are seen as severe and are modified in a direction which provides relief.

If it is the case that natural or social restraints and limitations in excess of what could be seen as necessary or desirable are palliated by changing of laws and mores or by technological advances of various kinds, and these sorts of changes occur often enough – and in the case of technological advance, almost too rapidly - why give central importance to the idea that what’s going wrong is “desiring of one’s own repression”?

I want to get back to lobsters, bats, Gillie-boy, and strata, but I want to pick up some of the old strands which motivated Enlightenment Underground to begin in the first place, become more clear about why, and then actually advance… even if, albeit, rather weirdly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Of Lobsters and Strata

"Every stratum operates this way: by grasping in its pincers [double articulation] a maximum number of intensities or intensive particles over which it spreads its forms and substances."- Deleuze and Guattari, “ A Thousand Plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia,” translated by Brian Massumi

“Hey Gillie-boy, that you?” asked the cyberboy.

“Man, you need to use some sunscreen. Either that, or stay out of the sun altogether,” the cyberboy remarked, rather concerned by the lobster-red sunburn which had not only baked Gillie-boys skin a bright red, but had turned it into a shell-hard carapace.

“No, this isn’t me. It’s God. Can’t you tell the difference?”

Gillie-boy was easily irritated by the cyberboy’s comments. He considered cyberboy’s stupidity to be a form of maliciousness. As Gillie-boy had once remarked, “ The inability to understand our work – this stupidity – is motivated by malice. They could understand us if they wanted to…” ( Cyberboy has paraphrased. Sorry. Couldn’t find the actual quotation.)

“You mean that’s God over there thinking he’s Gilles Deleuze?” Cyberboy tried to riposte. Indeed, for some time now, the cyberboy’s devotion to Deleuze had resembled the devotion cyberboy once thought appropriate to the Lord almighty. It was becoming increasingly clear, though, that this was his personal problem, not due to any demand or seduction placed upon him by Gillie-boy, and certainly not the problem of any particular swelling of Gillie-boy’s ego.

“ You know Gillie-boy,” cyberboy began to remark, ( cyberboy overuses the phrase “ you know” in face-to-face communication, too,) “ I understand quite well what it means to grasp something in pincers, and I can also quite easily see how the grasping in pincers would be called a “double articulation.” However, I’ve never really felt good about my understanding of double articulation as you use it. What really happens is that I think of double articulation as I think of binarisms, or false oppositions. I think of this use of “double articulation” of yours as being directly connected to your meditations on the workings of identity and opposition, and yet I’ve always sensed that you mean to add something more to those meditations with this new terminology.”

Gillie-boy doesn’t reply. Cyberboy guessed that it was because once Gillie-boy has decided that someone is malicious, he cuts them off.

Cyberboy went on, “Now I understand that the references to intensities and intensive particles are references to ‘differences’. If this is correct, you are saying that the double articulations are the way that the strata subsume ‘differences’ into identities or homogeneities or ossifications or whatever you want to call them. Substances and forms are in themselves oppositions in your way of thinking of them… aren’t they? But what you are doing is, rather than ‘refuting’ or ‘rebutting’ the concepts of substance and form, showing how they work – how they operate – what they do. This, Gillie-boy, I admire a great, great deal.”

“We don’t like form, do we Gillie-boy?” Cyberboy didn’t want to like form if Gillie-boy didn’t. He was checking.

“But substance? We have a problem with substance? I didn’t think we did?” Cyberboy was speaking as if he sensed a betrayal. “ This is the sort of switch in use, or confusion, that worries me, Gilles. Do I really understand you?”

Gillie-boy replied, “‘Substance -what is in itself and is conceived through itself, i.e., that whose concept does not require the concept of another thing, from which it must be ‘formed’ ( quoting Spinoza, Ethics, I, def. 3). By adding to the classic definition “what is conceived through itself,” Spinoza rules out the possibility of a plurality of substances having the same attribute; indeed these substances would then have something in common through which they could be comprehended by one another. This is why the first eight propositions of the Ethics are devoted to showing that there are not several substances per attribute: a numerical distinction is never a real distinction. That there is only one substance per attribute already suffices to confer unicity, self-causality, infinity, and necessary existence on each qualified substance. But this multiplicity of substances with different attributes should be understood in a purely qualitative way: a qualitative multiplicity or a formal-real distinction, to which the term ‘several’ applies inadequately. In this sense, the first eight propositions are not hypothetical but preserve their truth throughout the ‘Ethics.’” – from Gilles Deleuze, “ Spinoza: Practical Philosophy, translated by Robert Hurley.

“Ah, I get it. Hedging your philosophical bets! You think you’re red and uncomfortable now, Gillie-boy, well watch this!”

And with that, the cyberboy plunked Gillie-boy alive (or was it God? Cyberboy in spite of all his attempts at iconoclasm was still confused,) into the pot of boiling salt water he’d prepared.

After eating Gillie-boy along with a nice bottle of Chianti, cyberboy began to reflect on matters.

He realized that Gillie-boy’s comments in A Thousand Plateaus were much richer than he had known before. Cyberboy’s weaker understanding prior to his encounter with Gilles was in his understanding of “subsumption.” There is something like a subsumption being described in the Thousand Plateau quotation, but it is a matter more of a contrast of logic and clear thinking between Spinoza’s univocity thinking and thinking where there are a plurality of substances having the same attribute which could then be comprehended by one another, or through one another. Also, cyberboy had been confused because indeed “substance” has two different meanings in Deleuze’s writings. Sometimes Deleuze is using “substance” in Spinoza’s way where “substance” is what is in itself and is conceived through itself; and other times, he is using “substance” in the more truncated way as “what is in itself,” and for this other way Deleuze is trying to show alternatives.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Chuckle Boy Bogie Sans Bacall

Q: How many lobsters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: I don't know, but it has something to do with double articulation!

OogaOogaMooga I Want… Philosophy ? Me Arse!!!

Sheeet, fellers, we gonna have some fun around here, or are we going to mope all day? You guys even know what fun is? Oh ya do? Says who? Says whooooo……oooo? ( Is that an echo? The echo of cyberspace? )

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I know that what I am doing is third rate, or even worse, and in actual fact, not even rated…. But lookie haar…. At what you’ve done…. In making for a “Gay Science,” you’ve made for a historically-unparalleled dyspeptic ulcerated dungeon of nerves; escaping from Wittgenstein’s umm, fly bottle, you’ve created an even more baffling one… this bottle that you’ve invented reminds me of that movie that I liked, “ The Cube.” You’ve addressed a problem but it wasn’t your problem and I’m not sure for our contemporaries if it is really a problem at all… if what the world could use now really is a little more humor, baby, ( Let’s hear the arguments that humor isn’t what we need… that what we need is more humorless technology, more technocratic “thinking” and “politics”, and more paving of the earth with impermeable surfaces… you must provide them, because I will not,) and you even speak as if you do acknowledge this desire, where are you going?

We had, to our great benefit and beneficence, an Enlightenment – yes, an Enlightenment – I’m not ashamed to call it that. We want that Enlightenment to reach its fulfillment as a lightening up… a “Lighten-up, dude.” I don’t understand how the Enlightenment didn’t provide us with that anyway – it isn’t Kant’s fault… I laugh at his wit, I marvel at his weight, and his beauty is dazzling… I kiss the powdered wig covering his (presumably) bald pate. I guess I read Nietzsche as the one who tried to help us to understand where that short circuit was… and I think this is where the real inquiry is for us now, the real “problem.”

It is not an easy problem. It is a frustrating. Yet, in succumbing to the spirit of frustration, we move further from solving the problem.

Hey Gilles? Can I call you Gillie-Boy? I can’t? Too bad Gillie-Boy, I’m going to call you that anyway. ..

I’m looking at you right now. You are in a beautiful, elegant, and mirrored room. That crown molding near the ceiling? There is nothing even close to that in terms of architectural realization in the entire state where I live… and this is just a crown molding in some room you happen to be standing in at some moment in time.

But you? What do you look like, Gillie-Boy? You’ve got your fedora on, you have some whiskers shadowing your face, and you wear a kind of wool trench coat which we in America have for some reason come to associate with the pervert. You look a bit like a pervert, Gillie-Boy. I don’t like to say it, but that’s the way I react to you.
You are kind of the new man, the new man of what there is of hope to me, ( which means the potentiality for change,) standing in a room built by the old men, the bourgeoisie, and I’m not sure… no, I take that back… I am sure that my allegiances and affections are with the old man.

You are not happy. You are not gay. Did you ever intend to be?

“ The BwO* is the field of immanence of desire, the plane of consistency specific to desire ( with desire defined as a process of production without reference to any exterior agency, whether it be a lack that hollows it out or a pleasure that fills it.).” - Deleuze and Guattari, “A Thousand Plateaus: capitalism and schizophrenia,” page 154, translation by Brian Massumi.

That is a wonderfully concise definition of one of your most difficult conceptions, Gillie-Boy ; however, I have not yet been able to fully appreciate it. It is also one of your most important qualifications of what it is you are talking about when you speak of desire. You know, Gilles, when I first started speaking to you, it was precisely because I thought you were promising “a pleasure that fills it.”

I don’t know why I like speaking with you and working with you, dirty old man. I only know that I do. I can never and will never allege that it is because you lead me on with attractive promises. I’ll kiss your fedora. At least I won’t get a bunch of powder in my mouth when I do so.

* Body without Organs.