Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Banana Publican

I’m a hominid. I can do very little. Because I am a primate, and because primates have been scientifically shown to have enormous excess brain capacity (I’m thinking here of the latent language capacity of the apes. Taught in captivity, apes have achieved – what is it? A vocabulary approaching that of a small child? I think that’s about right,) I believe I can rightfully claim to have enormous excess brain capacity. You’d never know it looking at me, as I lumber along, silently scavenging for whatever I might happen to come across…

Scavenging is too glorious a word for what I do, alas. I literally have to stumble over something to find it…Stumble over it or get close enough to it to smell it…My olfactory powers are greater than yours, but they are not great in comparison to any of the animals around me…I am not competing in any biologically-acceptable use of that word…I am bottom feeding what is left behind by all the other bottom feeders around me…If I am faced with the situation where I must clash or fight with them, I give way. I can’t fight off even the jackals, I cannot withstand the bites they would give me.

I can’t even dream of eating a banana…Are you kidding me? Go up against the chimps? Fat fucking chance of victory there.

I apologize for having made my life sound dreary – it is not. What I mainly experience is ecstasy. I’m experiencing a lot of wonder…That’s the tone of my existence, a kind of open-mouthed gawping wonder at…both nothing and everything. And it feels great. My life is difficult and it certainly would look miserable to an outside observer…If I saw myself as an outside observer saw me, I might be bewitched to lose this innocent feeling of the greatness I feel, but I haven’t invented either the concept of an outside or the concept of an observer or even the capacity of evaluating my feeling or knowing I am feeling my feeling…This ecstasy in me is a kind of baseline default feeling and I don’t even know I am feeling it, necessarily.

The only homo sapiens analogy to this ecstasy I can come up with to describe – and I mean this only as an indication, I’m not being precise--are the feelings accompanying immersion in an important project- but there was time and there was energy and I had that moment and that moment sufficed and felt happy in the very brief moments I looked up and thought about. I guess in making this comparison I am making a celebration of necessity, which has a reactionary ring to it, but there’s reality in necessity and if you can’t celebrate reality, you’ve got problems. We need necessity. To be in need is not necessarily to be impoverished. It’s better to look at it as an intense involvement in one’s life, whatever that life might be.

I want to lay my problems out on the table. It is not at all obvious why I would ever behaviorally modify myself…It is not obvious why I would change my life to make my life easier or better for myself. Why would I ever pick up a rock or clack a rock against another rock? Would I, if I picked up a sharp rock, say cutting myself accidentally, have a “sudden realization” (an inspiration, as they say—incorrectly, I believe,) that this “sharpness” (a quality?) presents me with an enormous range of new possibilities? Of potential “usefulness”? Remember: I am trying to get at what is known as rationality, not merely assume it…Assume it exists, even. Having been a homo sapiens at one point introduces to me a temptation to retrodiction… The homo sapiens knows that the hominid flaked rocks and this proved to be useful to the hominid. In my hominid form, I cannot predict anything. I certainly do not have a concept of prediction, and as a matter of fact, homo sapiens didn’t either until very late in their own game. I cannot even “observe.”

I pick up two rocks, one in each hand. Maybe I can manage this. Can I bring the two hands together? Probably a lot of practice would allow me to do this. Why would I take the time to practice? Would the act of loading my hands with rocks and then clacking the rocks together give me some special pleasure? I think that’s doubtful,(but maybe it would, I’m not sure.) If I do this –clack rocks—I don’t have a distinct idea of why I am doing it. It’s not for the exercise. It’s not to develop my mind. It’s not a “sublimated sexual impulse.” It’s not an embryonic “religious ritual.” I think that this action would have to be considered to be prior to any myth...It can't be considered to be guided by myth in any sense of myth of which I have knowledge. It’s not a job. There’s no inchoate model or plan I’m enacting. There’s no goal or notion of “innovation.” I’m just not so sure I am innately a toolmaker…Of course if I do make that assumption then my way through this thicket is immediately cleared…The whole problem I want to get at is magically removed.

3 Comments:

Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Hey, Yusef,

Great title and good writing.

Maybe it's my fault, but I don't really get where you are going with this.

You're becoming-animal, I’m a hominid.

Pre-language, pre-cognition, pre-human, and yet being POST-animal-human in your description of being PRE-human.

Please explain.

Orla

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Our approach(yours and mine) to the Enlightenment has been idiosyncratic in ways it has been difficult for me to understand. I think we are trying to read Deleuze into Kant, and Kant into Deleuze in ways that just won't work.

When I said that the Enlightenment was a primary step in a being human, I meant to say by this that the Enlightenment was not a becoming, a process of becoming. "Being human" is not a becoming.

The way you've put this,

"Is sexual maturity becoming-female-animal-man?"

has made things ambiguous (or maybe I could say it raises questions.) You are conjoining female and man for one thing. Doesn't that destroy the idea behind a becoming-woman? (Of becoming as a becoming minor?) It is as if you were to say that becoming is a becoming minor, and then qualifying this by saying that becoming is a becoming minor-major.

Kant-Enlightenment as a primary step in being human can't be directly equated with Kant-Enlightenment as a primary step in a becoming. Or- if it can, I need to see much more clearly how that might be. One is a becoming and the other is something else. I think it's a molarization. If we start to think of molarizations as forms of becoming, my opinion is that our line of flight has been downed in our own end zone. We're done.

We have to be able to distinguish becomings from those things which are not becomings. (Which I see as the same problem as distinguishing dead repetitions from lively ones.)

For some reason, I am finding "hominid enlightenment" as a haeccity somewhat easier to work
through than the 18th century enlightenment. I know it's eccentric and perhaps even bizarre and I am introducing other sets of tangles which you may not appreciate. Part of the truth here: if I try to sort out all of my idiosyncracy, crudeness, strangeness, and eccentricity, I can't go anywhere. I come to a screeching halt. I am sorry for the existence of this stuff, but I do excuse myself in that I can at the present time do no other.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Thank you very much, Yusef, for your thoughtful response. It’s much appreciated. Let me try to contribute to our dialogue by picking up a few
of your points.

You write,

Our approach (yours and mine) to the Enlightenment has been idiosyncratic in ways it has been difficult for me to understand. I think we are trying to read Deleuze into Kant, and Kant into Deleuze in ways that just won't work.

I can only agree. We do approach, not only the Enlightenment, but maybe philosophy in general, in very different and probably idiosyncratic ways. I have often been taken totally off guard by your reactions and writings. This has, I might add, also been a constant pleasure and inspiration. The fascination of meeting a mind that is so unpredictable (at least to me) is a welcomed stimulating challenge. I have often scratched my head when reading one of your posts and said, “Now, how did he come up with THAT?” And yet every time you egged me on. And thank you for that! The whole set-up is in a way just as geographically bizarre as you say is your “ idiosyncracy, crudeness, strangeness, and eccentricity . Hey, you are in Alaska, I’m in Denmark. Maybe geography is philosophy (Deleuze would appreciate this haeccity: longitudes and stuff!).

Yes, we are reading Deleuze into Kant. Isn’t that just the point?

And this might just be the best way of approaching The Enlightenment.

It is safe to say, I guess, that we are both inspired by Deleuze and that is basically also saying: Constantly creating and always becoming. In other words: Forming concepts, building mental constructs, and developing intellectually open maps. 



You write,

For some reason, I am finding "hominid enlightenment" as a haeccity somewhat easier to work
through than the 18th century enlightenment. I know it's eccentric and perhaps even bizarre and I am introducing other sets of tangles which you may not appreciate. Part of the truth here: if I try to sort out all of my idiosyncracy, crudeness, strangeness, and eccentricity, I can't go anywhere. I come to a screeching halt. I am sorry for the existence of this stuff, but I do excuse myself in that I can at the present time do no other.

I accept this, Yusef. And look forward to your future posts. But I must also add that I don’t personalize philosophy the same way as you do. I can play around with any Deleuzian idea that you might come up with in an impersonal way. To me philosophy is existential. And Deleuze is first and foremost the midwife of intellectual inspiration – for me.

Now, what I would like for the Enlightenment Underground is to go through, say the ATP, chapter by chapter, and see where our spirits would soar.

Thank you again, Yusef, for your idiosyncratic approach.

Orla

8:21 PM  

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