Thursday, May 08, 2008

“Myth is Totality” as Desire, Part V

As an engendering venture of the Enlightenment Underground, Carl greeted us with this admirable, identificative copulative: myth is totality.

“Myth is totality” is a metaphoric configuration suggesting one idea, totality, may be used in place of the other, myth, positing a likeness or analogy between them—a similitude.

As such “myth is totality” is useless to us as we grope our way towards—not an understanding of the Enlightenment—I don’t think we are interested in a scholarly or historical understanding of this important era— but towards a creation which we can conceptualize only by accentuating and agitating our difference from the historical Enlightenment.

Instead of instantiating difference, “myth is totality” may token a process of homogenization—a destroying of distinction.

Instead of allowing for rhizomatic burrowing, the Underground of this Enlightenment collapses on the miners working the “myth is totality” vein—the rough timbers of the Underground tunnel which had “myth is totality” above its lintel gives out under the burden of an enormous load--the underground becomes ground into the ground –-a stifling blackness overcomes the last carbide light-- the cows become black, the cats become gray--

"I never thought that I would find myself
In bed amongst the stones
The columns are all men
Begging to crush me
No shapes sail on the dark deep lakes
And no flags wave me home

In the caves
All cats are grey
In the caves
The textures coat my skin
In the death cell
A single note
Rings on and on and on"-R Smith

...gray moles, black rats, gray-black worms—all are dead and gray...

But enough of all that—enough!!

“Myth is totality” will work well for us, I think, if we discard the metaphoric configuration and use “myth” and “totality” (and “overcoming” and “critique”,) to form a pragmatic of multiplicities – to name statements, with the word statement to be used in precisely this way,

“The new archivist proclaims that henceforth he will deal only with statements. He will not concern himself with what previous archivists have treated in a thousand different ways: propositions and phrases. He will ignore both the vertical hierarchy of propositions which are stacked on top of one another, and the horizontal relationship established between phrases in which each seems to respond to another. Instead he will remain mobile, skimming along in a kind of diagonal line that allows him to read what could not be apprehended before, namely statements. […] Such multiplicities have no set linguistic construction, yet they are statements. […] Statements […] inhabit a general realm of rarity within which they are distributed begrudgingly and even inadequately. No sense of possibility or potentiality exists in the realm of statements. Everything in them is real and all reality is manifestly present. All that counts is what has been formulated at a given moment, including blanks and gaps. It is none the less certain that statements can be opposed to one another, and placed in hierarchical order. Foucault rigorously demonstrates that contradictions between statements can be measured only by calculating the concrete distance between them within this space of rarity. Comparisons between statements are therefore linked to a mobile diagonal line that allows us, within this space, to make a direct study of the same set at different levels, as well as to choose some sets on the same level while disregarding others (which in their turn might presuppose another diagonal line). It is precisely the rarefied nature of this space which creates these unusual movements and bursts of passion that cut space up into new dimensions. To our amazement, this ‘incomplete, fragmented form’ shows, when it comes to statements, how not only few things are said, but ‘few things can be said.’ What consequences from this transportation of logic will find their way into that element of rarity or dispersion which has nothing to do with negativity, but which on the contrary forms that ‘positivity’ which is unique to statements?” – from Foucault, by Gilles Deleuze, pages 1-3, “The New Archivist.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Yusef for these thoughts.

I have been wanting to respond to your previous post and its quote:

As Jean-Francois Lyotard said, “Postmodernism should wage a war on totality.”

I don't have the time or energy now, but I shall return.


7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, isnt that from a song by the band "The Cure"?

I used to listen to that band a lot when I was 17-18-19 years old. I think I also saw them live once.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, that's R Smith from The Cure, and I believe the title of the song is "All Cats are Grey."


5:00 PM  

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