Monday, January 15, 2007

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


Does a narcissist ever stutter? Does a narcissist ever laugh?

Is it possible to have wit, a mind, without interaction with others?

Is a joke told to impress others of one’s own wit ever even one wit funny?

Is there such a thing as “non-interactive” USE?

Is the “non-interactive” ever anything but passive? ( In other words, is there “non-interactive” activity – or is “non-interactive” activity a mirage – a speaking with oneself in a private language which doesn’t exist?)

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." – Ludwig Wittgenstein’s rigorous depiction from early in his career, of how one must behave after what can be spelled out within a “non-interactive” concept of truth has been spelled out. One gazes silently, passively.

Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus............seamless, taught repetition without difference.

“Echo, with all the other lovelorn maidens, loved Narcissus. She could follow him, but could not speak to him. How then could she make a youth who never looked at a girl pay attention to her? One day, however, it seemed her chance had come. He was calling to his companions, “Is anyone here?” and she called back in rapture, “Here-Here.” She was still hidden by the trees so that he did not see her, and he shouted, “Come!” – just what she longed to say to him. She answered joyfully, “Come!” and stepped forth from the woods with her arms outstretched. But he turned away in angry disgust. “Not so,” he said: “I will die before I give you power over me.”

So Narcissus went on his cruel way, a scorner of love. But at last one of those he wounded prayed a prayer and it was answered by the gods: “May he who loves not others love himself.” The great goddess Nemesis which means righteous anger, undertook to bring this about. As Narcissus bent over a clear pool for a drink and saw there his own reflection, on the moment he fell in love with it. ‘Now I know,’
he cried, ‘what others have suffered from me, for I burn with love of my own self—and yet how can I reach that loveliness I see mirrored in the water? But I cannot leave it. Only death can set me free.’ And so it happened. He pined away, leaning perpetually over the pool, fixed in one long gaze.” – Edith Hamilton, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 1942, pages 87-88.

Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus Narcissus cannot reach that loveliness he sees mirrored in the water, but he cannot leave it, he can’t HuisClos his HuisClos.

There is no exit without DIFFERENCE. There is no such thing as DIFFERENCE without interaction, without “use.” There is no such thing as INTERACTION without OTHER. These comments are necessary parts of a multiplicity-mechanics.

Narcissus’s inability to exit from the silent gaze is not conditioned by a force imposed upon him – an interaction with a more powerful OTHER. It is self-imposed. The inability to exit is the form of SELF-IMPOSITION… The form of non-interaction.

Narcissus is NO-EXIT.

“Inez: I have your taste, my dear, because I like you so much. Look at me. No, straight. Now smile. I’m not so ugly, either. Am I not nicer than your glass?

Estelle: Oh, I don’t know. You scare me rather. My reflection in the glass never did that; of course, I knew it so well. Like something I had tamed…. I’m going to smile, and my smile will sink down into your pupils, and heaven knows what it will become.

Inez: And why shouldn’t you ‘tame’ me? [The women gaze at each other, Estelle with a sort of fearful fascination.] Listen! I want you to call me Inez. We must be great friends.

Estelle: I don’t make friends with women very easily.

Inez: Not with postal clerks, you mean? Hullo, what’s that—that nasty red spot at the bottom of your cheek? A pimple?

Estelle: A pimple? Oh, how simply foul! Where?

Inez: There…. You know the way they catch larks—with a mirror? I’m your lark-mirror, my dear, and you can’t escape me… There isn’t a pimple, not a trace of one. So what about it? Suppose the mirror started telling lies?” – Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit, 1944, page 21.

Garcin, Estelle, and Inez each try to use the other as a mirror. The power of the other to reflect an idealized image of each is the only use they make, or attempt to make, of each other. The play ends with, “They slump onto their respective sofas. A long silence. Their laughter dies away and they gaze at each other.”

NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissus NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissus NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissus NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissus NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissus NarNOEXcissusNarNOEXcissusIT

"The meaning of a word is its use," Ludwig Wittgenstein says, much later in his career, at a time when he has abandoned entirely any conception of truth and meaning as non-interactive. ( I wanted to associate this with his discovery, at around this time, that the way we use words is various and diverse, but I can’t find the reference.)

WittNarcigensteinWittlessNarcigensteinGENARCISSUS.... EXITS:

"A person caught in a philosophical confusion is like a man in a room who wants to get out but doesn't know how. He tries the window but it is too high. He tries the chimney but it is too narrow. And if he would only turn around, he would see that the door has been open all the time."

Ludwig Wittgenstein, enunciating: THERE IS EXIT.

Narcissus, finding meaning and truth in interaction with OTHER, turns away from fascinating IMAGO which can’t be worked or used – he turns around, and sees that the WAY OUT has been open all the time.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mirror is traditionally a symbol of vanity, but also of wisdom and self-reflection. Inwhich case Narcissus may not be looking at himself, but at the world. It may not just be a masterbatory activity.
A non-interactive activity might be "art" if you are using the Romatintic idea of self-expression.
Maybe agoraphobia is a non-interactive activity.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thank you very much, anonymous.

I want to examine further some of the issues you raise, particularly the one of " self-expression," because I want to get at the underlying concept of subjectivity there.

I am intrigued by the romantic concept of art as an almost narcissistic activity, of self-absorption and self-reflection,( without the stigmatization of these,) as contrasted with the post-structuralist concept ( the one I hold) of art as a way out, a way through, as absolute deterritorialization... leading to an entirely different notion of culture and, if it can still be called this, community.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thank you for your kind comments, David.

I look forward to talking to you.

4:13 PM  

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