Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Enlightenment Anxiety

Enlightenment Underground was to be a collaborative effort, but it never was.

The theme of the Enlightenment was not one I would have chosen. That choice was not made by us in collaboration: it was dictated by Carl.

It was dictated by Carl, who then abdicated.

I was willing to try to play along, but it is apparent to me now I am unable. I am freaking unable.

I am freaking out and I have freaked out all along.

I have more than ambivalence to the Enlightenment: I have extreme aversion to it.

What is the historical Enlightenment?

It’s a willingness to accept an enormous level of anxiety about the basic project of the self. Is that level of anxiety completely unproductive? Quite possibly – I wouldn’t be surprised to see the entire three centuries of intellectual edifice founded on this anxiety come crumbling down.

I might be one of the people cheering, in that event.

I have no willingness to bear this excruciating burden of anxiety.

Kant said, “Dare to use your own Reason.”

But what I would reply is, “There is no such a thing as one’s own Reason.”

Whatever reason is, it is social and political and decidedly not private or natural.

If my autonomy, or my sense of my own autonomy, is founded on use of “my own Reason” but in my heart I suspect that there is no such thing as “my own Reason,” I am suspended, in my project of selfhood, in anxiety.

It is painful to contemplate the anxiety of one’s own anxiety.

I feel regret about freaking out, though.

I would easily understand why my co-collaborators would not want to stay in the “room” with me – how would it be possible to collaborate with, or even talk to, someone freaking out? I think one of the weirdest and most awful things about my participation in the blog has been how difficult it has been to be honest. The “freaking out” wasn’t even honest, a guarantee of honesty. It didn’t provide a way out of the inhibition I’ve felt, either. And this is very strange.

Daring to use my own reason, I boldly state: I have no private reason? (And is it possible to say such a thing boldly?)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Multiplicity-Selection; Multiplicity-Delirium

We hominids, huddled together under a sky alternately frigid and hot, bustle with virtuality. It is our relationship with the virtual which makes us interesting to this humanoid who inadequately interrogates our connections and couplings.

This humanoid is Yusef. Does anyone need that explicit disclaimer?

If my hunches are correct, we question the Enlightenment in terms of its relationship to the virtual in exactly the same way. Otherwise, we default to a periodization question, and an acceptance or a rejection of the duality: modernity versus non-modernity, (the ancients.)

See, I think these hominids are interesting because their relationship to the virtual is so explicit. To say it is explicit is not to say it is privileged or special or unique. It is also not to give it a heuristic advantage.

The idea of the vitual needs to penetrate into anthropology. It also needs to penetrate into the mathematics of probability.

I slip here and I slip there. I grope and grasp and have only the dimmest awareness of the quivering flesh which I both escape and come home to. Hey? Is this the ideal of the orgy or is this the venal sin of giving way to the ugliest taboo sin?

Quivering flesh? “Quivering flesh” is shorthand for the ridiculous, or “quivering flesh” is shorthand for pleasure, or both.

If it is the case that I the humanoid am willing to accept a reduction of capacity and of the sensory, then it is possible I am moving into a more disadvantageous relationship to the virtual than my ancestor, the hominid.

He was a ratty fellow, stank worse than shit or piss, or both, lumbered along without anger or rancor or plan or impulse, and yet with an extraordinary élan, in the most magnificent sense of that word.

Here I am, communicating far and wide with command of electrons and multiplex bands of the electromagnetic spectrum – I smell of various natural and artificial, elemental and synthesized flavors and aerosols, and yet, it is so obvious: my relationship to the virtual has contracted and been reduced.

It isn’t a matter of my approach to the perfect having been deflected.

It is a matter of my becoming of having been cemented, blocked, turned into its “opposite.”

Multiplicty-selection: remove the idea of agency, and this is okay.

Multiplicity-delerium: this concept is a little closer to giving proper weight to the unconscious in productivity.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hominid Erotic Stimulus

As a hominid, I have no erotic stimulus or stimulation.

There is no sign of the erotic.

Whatever is natural in the sexual is entirely pre-personal.

As a human, I am concerned by the extent to which my male sexuality is based on very primitive stimulus – response mechanisms: I see a boob and I get excited, etc.

I generally accept as completely natural this stimulus-response mechanism, and I am even grateful for it.

But I have to pause and think of how conducive to operant conditioning this would be, and whether it already is put in effect by an operant conditioning of which we are unaware.

My willingness to reduce the set of stimuli down into merely visual ones, for example through viewing internet pornography, concerns me.

In actual good sex, the visual stimuli is but one among others and not primary. Though I’m using my eyes, I’m not using them as I do usually…I’m out of focus, and I like it that way. If I try to get visual clarity, that happens as a pause and even an interruption in the pleasure.

Viewing pornography, there is only visual stimuli – but even more than that, the visual is not very realized, experienced, or sensed. It is somewhat rare I see the woman’s boob…What I see is “woman’s boob” almost as if the photograph of the boob were a symbolic boob. Not even a real one. As if there were a sign there that said, “boob.” Seeing the sign, not a boob, I respond as Pavlov’s dog responded to the ringing of a bell as if it were food coming.

This strikes me as a very dangerous way to allow myself to become conditioned. (I freely admit I am cooperating in the conditioning, however.)

Clearly, we are “settling for less” here…The almost total immersion in a regular sexual contact reduces to the limited visual stimulation…This limited visual stimulation is further reduced from a full visual experience of perceiving a boob down to the boob as a sign or signal, a symbol.

I’m primarily viewing internet porn when I should be working, and I’m looking at it when I am frustrated or bored. It perks me up. It distracts me.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hominid Thing

We hominids are clustered together in the chilly night. We cling to each other, but unknowingly. Sure, we feel each other, we react to each other. We move, we twist, and we do the exotic dance of the unconscious continued to this day by sleeping humans. While asleep I travel across the rocky bed of this cave, with my arms and legs akimbo, and so do Betsey and the others. There are no distinctions between us, we simply manifest dozens or even thousands of gradients of an extraordinary assortment of kinds…We perceive these gradients and respond to them…The perception and the response aren’t (much) separate, though. We intertwine with each other or maybe it would be better to say that these gradients intertwine and intertwine us.

We don’t have an alpha group or an alpha male or an alpha female. The question of us being characterized as either matriarchal or patriarchal would be astoundingly absurd. There are no arrangements of us. It may be difficult to understand this claim, but we do not "interact" with each other. We do not reflect upon each other or our situation. We can't. We don't have what would now be called emotions about each other, either. I don’t envy the others. I don’t think about killing them to get what they’ve got…I don’t know what kind of cultural structures (I don’t think anyone nowadays assumes there is a “brain anatomy” of envy) would be required to think in these highly complex ways, but we obviously don’t have them.

I am not "equipped" for life out here in the wilds of Africa. I have not been prepared for it. When God was handing out the preparations, we hominids weren't in line. We are truly primitive.

Anything which isn't primitive, we don't have.

There is no such thing as a primitive idea.

There is no such thing as a primitive (human) emotion, either.

Envy isn’t primitive.

Identification of sex (male or female) isn’t primitive. The gathering of (human or hominid) females by one (human or hominid) male isn’t primitive. (By primitive I mean something that can be used to explain other things but doesn’t need to be explained itself…It’s sort of a “given.”) The enormous extent to which the primal horde as conceived by Freud and Darwin (Freud was following Darwin on this, I believe,) is already highly structured and sedimented and downright sophisticated has not been appreciated. Their originary "primal" theoretical moment (event) would require developments which they don’t seem to take into account. (Darwin and Freud may not have seen it this way because in their speculative theories they used field observations of the way apes or other primate hordes were organized -- alpha males in some primate groups do indeed control multiple females…Darwin and Freud may therefore have regarded the control of multiple females by an alpha male, and all the behavior which goes along with that, as primitive in the sense I’m using primitive.)

But us poor hominids (assuming that our primate ancestors were among those primates with a harem organization –and I think it’s interesting how flimsy that assumption is because many primate groups are very different and our ancestors might very well have been different) lost this organization when we became hominids. We had to come by it again through a long process of creation and becoming.