Monday, June 30, 2008

A Few Elaborations On "A Strong Pessimism"

Before returning to returning to the Eternal Return I want to elaborate a bit on the interesting concept of ”strong pessimism” that Yusef introduced via a quote from Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy,

Is pessimism inevitably a sign of decadence, warp, weakened instincts, as it was once with the ancient Hindus, as it is now with us modern Europeans? Or is there such a thing as a strong pessimism? A penchant of the mind for what is hard, terrible, evil, dubious in existence, arising from a plethora of health, plenitude of being? Could it be, perhaps, that the very feeling of superabundance created its own kind of suffering: a temerity of penetration, hankering for the enemy (the worth-while enemy) so as to prove its strength, to experience at last what it means to fear something?”

Since Nietzsche defined this as a consequence, maybe even a longing, stemming from a superabundance of health and affirmation he was not, it seems, characterizing it as negation or a reactive force, rather as a surplus of the life instinct. There doesn’t seem to be a contradiction here.

In much the same manner Deleuze’s philosophy is an absolute rejection of the powers of the negative. His theory of the event, his redefinition of the concept, and his open system of thought protects his work from nihilism.

Here’s what André Pierre Colombat writes (in Three Powers of Literature and Philosophy from A Deleuzian Century? ed. by Ian Buchanan, 1999, p. 207)

He combines the affirmative forces of Nietzscheanism with the active powers of Spinozist thought so as to strive for Rimbaud’s reinvention of life itself. Death is not characterized in a negative manner. To use a neo-Kantian and constructivist distinction, death is not considered the passive negation of life, but rather to be endorsed as the active negation of actual forms of life.

…according to Kant a distinction must be made between passive and active negations. So, for instance, if a proposition states that “A believes P,” its passive negation would be “No (A believes P),” while its active negation would be “A believes non-P”. The negative reigns over the former, but in the latter the negation appears only as the shadow of another affirmation. In a Deleuzian context, the first “passive” negation constructs a relation between being and nothingness with the difference characterized as a nonrepetition. The second “active” negation renders thinking as a battlefield of forces continually affecting each other. The “active” negation would mark only the point where two different or even opposite powers of affirmation come into contact with one another.

All of Deleuze’s work revolves around active negation and denounces the myths and illusions of representations based primarily on passive negation.

Isn’t a strong pessimism an “active” negation? And in what ways can it then be productive?

Yusef suggests that the concept exposes all that crazy happy-camper optimism as thoroughly negative, the symptom of weakened instincts par excellent.

But isn’t it also an affirmative force? Maybe, in general, we should translate "passive negations" into "active" ones.

I’m just wondering and would appreciate your thoughts.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Returning to The Eternal Return, Part I

The following is a series of attempts at grasping the concept of The Eternal Return in Nietzsche’s thinking. Through all the years I have read and studied his works I haven’t really come any closer to an understanding of this cornerstone in his philosophy. Now I want to try. So I guess I’m talking to myself and I apologize for filling up space if nobody else is interested. (Warning: there will be a lot of quotes, some rather long).

Nietzsche himself has not given a coherent explanation of the concept, which really is not surprising, given his (shall we say) lapidary, as well as evocatively poetic style of writing. Here and there in his works there are only fleeting references to The Eternal Return which he himself nevertheless considered “the highest form of affirmation that can be achieved”.

In his autobiography Ecce Homo(1888), there’s a short and powerful passage about the inspiration behind Thus Spake Zarathustra,

I shall now tell the story of Zarathustra. The basic conception of this work, the idea of eternal recurrence, this highest formula of affirmation that can possibly be attained—, belongs to the August of the year 1881: it was jotted down on a sheet of paper with the inscription "6,000 feet beyond man and time." I was walking through the woods that day along the lake of Silvaplana; I stopped beside a mighty pyramidal boulder towering up not far from Surlei. Then this idea came to me.

At first glance the whole idea of “eternal recurrence” seems as old as Antiquity or even earlier in Buddhism as the view that the universe as well as life is cyclical – the great wheel of being ever turning – but Nietzsche’s definition expands this into a philosophy of time, or more precisely the status of The Moment. The relevant passage in Zarathustra is to be found in The Vision and the Enigma in Part Three,

"Look at this gateway! Dwarf!" I continued, "it hath two faces.
Two roads come together here: these hath no one yet gone to the end of.
This long lane backwards: it continueth for an eternity. And that
long lane forward- that is another eternity.
They are antithetical to one another, these roads; they directly
abut on one another:- and it is here, at this gateway, that they
come together. The name of the gateway is inscribed above: 'This
But should one follow them further- and ever further and further on,
thinkest thou, dwarf, that these roads would be eternally
"Everything straight lieth," murmured the dwarf, contemptuously.
"All truth is crooked; time itself is a circle."
"Thou spirit of gravity!" said I wrathfully, "do not take it too
lightly! Or I shall let thee squat where thou squattest, Haltfoot,-
and I carried thee high!"
"Observe," continued I, "This Moment! From the gateway, This Moment, there runneth a long eternal lane backwards: behind us lieth an eternity.
Must not whatever can run its course of all things, have already run
along that lane? Must not whatever can happen of all things have
already happened, resulted, and gone by?
And if everything has already existed, what thinkest thou, dwarf, of
This Moment? Must not this gateway also- have already existed?
And are not all things closely bound together in such wise that This
Moment draweth all coming things after it? Consequently- itself also?
For whatever can run its course of all things, also in this long
lane outward- must it once more run!-
And this slow spider which creepeth in the moonlight, and this
moonlight itself, and thou and I in this gateway whispering
together, whispering of eternal things- must we not all have already
-And must we not return and run in that other lane out before us,
that long weird lane- must we not eternally return?"-
Thus did I speak, and always more softly: for I was afraid of mine
own thoughts, and arrear-thoughts.

This, of course, is a suggestive extract on many levels but if we concentrate on the central issue of This Moment the obvious questions seems to be how can the present pass? As Deleuze points out in the first of his several tries at re-defining (and neo-creating!) the concept in his Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962) the passing moment could never pass if it were not already past and yet to come – at the same time as being present.

The present must coexist with itself as past and yet to come. The synthetic relation of the moment to itself as present, past and future grounds its relation to other moments. The eternal return is thus an answer to the problem of PASSAGE. And in this sense it must not be interpreted as the return of something that is, that is “one” and the “same”. We misinterpret the expression “eternal return” if we understand it as “return of the same”.

We can only understand the eternal return as the expression of a principle which serves as an explanation of diversity and its reproduction, of difference and its repetition. Nietzsche presents this principle as one of his most important philosophical discoveries. He calls it WILL TO POWER. By will to power “I express the characteristic that cannot be thought out of the mechanistic order without thinking away this order itself.”
p. 48f in op. cit.

So instead of the “naïve” (Deleuze’s expression) assumption that the eternal return is the return of “the same”, it is rather an expression of Nietzsche’s general constructivistic philosophy, as the formula of the German das Werden = the continuous creation, the eternal becoming, the flowing dialectics of active and reactive forces. This also points to the over-arching theme of nihilism and how to overcome it. To the nihilist the thought of the return of THE SAME in life is unbearable since his life is composed of suffering and ressentiment. He is always obsessed with bringing this life to an end.

In “The Gay Science”, 1882, Book IV, essay # 341 Nietzsche has described this horror – and affirmation,

341. The greatest weight.— What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you in your loneliest loneliness and say to you: "This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence—even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!"— Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: "You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine!" If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you; the question in each and every thing, "Do you desire this once more, and innumerable times more?" would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? —

(to be continued)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rationality and Totality, Part VIII

I’m not one hundred percent sure I any longer know what our conversation is about, or where it might with benefit go.

I will take a stab at reorienting myself by making a question of this,

“Ressentiment and bad conscience express the triumph of negative forces in humankind, and even constitutes the human, i.e. the human-slave. This shows precisely to what extent the Nietzschean conception of slave does not necessarily designate someone who is dominated, whether by destiny or by social condition, but characterizes both dominant and dominated, ruler and ruled, whenever a regime of domination works through reactive forces rather than active ones…”- Gilles Deleuze, from Two Regimes of Madness, preface to Nietzsche and Philosophy, American Edition.

This is a relatively straightforward statement and I think we all agree with both Deleuze and Nietzsche that ressentiment and bad conscience are not creative, life-giving energies, and we would do well to not give them expression, if possible. It is not actually clear, however, whether we mean the same thing when we speak of ressentiment and bad conscience. Additionally, the question arises whether, if ressentiment and bad conscience are truly constitutive of the human being, we can in fact avoid being constituted by them. In other words, we may disagree about how ressentiment and bad conscience are to be overcome...How we might become active. If we are constituted by ressentiment and bad conscience, our attempts to not be constituted by them, in the form of celebrating affirmation, etc. could be nothing more than a further intensification of these reactive forces. Furthermore, by situating a claim to be affirming and active within the philosophy of Nietzsche (and Deleuze’s, at the time he authored Nietzsche and Philosophy,) one is proclaiming oneself a superman, an ubermensch—this is indeed an audacity, one which I believe both Nietzsche and Deleuze would have shunned for themselves. We may disagree on whether this is an affirmation anyone at Enlightenment Underground is entitled to make.

Nietzsche claimed to be prologue to the ubermensch, not that he actually was ubermensch himself. Why would we be when he was not? Because we come after Nietzsche?

If we believe we are supermen because we have triumphed over the negative forces which had previously triumphed over humankind, I suggest we take another look at this purported triumph. What does it consist of? Can the positive content of this purported triumph be pointed out? Or does it not instead consist of ignoring the negative, avoiding it, pretending it doesn’t exist-- thus making it a "negative" triumph?(If there even could be such a thing as a negative triumph.) If our triumph is negative, I think we are last men, not supermen...All the more firmly established as last men-- further than ever from being active or affirming. Yes, we are last men, and our superficial attempt to be supermen merely confirms this fact.

I don’t think Nietzsche’s vision of the nature of the negative forces contains any such superficiality. Take this as an example,

“Music and Tragedy? The Greeks and dramatic music? The Greeks and pessimistic art? The Greeks: this most beautiful and accomplished, this thoroughly sane, universally envied species of man—was it conceivable that they, of all people, should have stood in need of tragedy—or, indeed, of art? Greek art: how did it function, how could it? By now the reader will have come to suspect where I had put my mark of interrogation. The question was one of value, the value placed on existence. Is pessimism inevitably a sign of decadence, warp, weakened instincts, as it was once with the ancient Hindus, as it is now with us modern Europeans? Or is there such a thing as a strong pessimism? A penchant of the mind for what is hard, terrible, evil, dubious in existence, arising from a plethora of health, plenitude of being? Could it be, perhaps, that the very feeling of superabundance created its own kind of suffering: a temerity of penetration, hankering for the enemy (the worth-while enemy) so as to prove its strength, to experience at last what it means to fear something?” --Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, from the later added “A Critical Backward Glance.”

A strong pessimism….In other words, a pessimism which is not a negative force or the result of weakened instincts. A pessimism which is in fact a sign of superabundance, and which may expose all that crazy happy-camper optimism as thoroughly negative, the symptom of weakened instincts par excellent. To hastily assign as negative all that which our European culture regards as negative, according to who knows what convention, is to be weak, superficial,unthinking, unphilosophical-- even anti-philosophical.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Will to Power Is Giving and Creating

Yesterday I bought and started reading Two Regimes of Madness. Texts and Interviews 1975-1995, by Deleuze. In this collection of his writings there’s the preface to the American edition of Nietzsche and Philosophy. Here are a few quotes,

Ressentiment and bad conscience express the triumph of negative forces in humankind, and even constitutes the human, i.e. the human-slave. This shows precisely to what extent the Nietzschean conception of slave does not necessarily designate someone who is dominated, whether by destiny or by social condition, but characterizes both dominant and dominated, ruler and ruled, whenever a regime of domination works through reactive forces rather than active ones…

Misunderstanding has plagued The Eternal Return no less than The Will to Power…what returns, or is apt to return, is only that which becomes in the fullest sense of the word. Only action and affirmation return: Being belongs to becoming and only to becoming. Whatever is opposed to becoming – the Same or the Identical – is not, rigorously speaking. The negative as the lowest degree of power, the reactive as the lowest degree of form, these do not return, because they are the opposites of becoming, and becoming constitutes the only Being.

One can see how the Eternal Return is tied not to a repetition of the Same, but to a transmutation. The Eternal Return is the instant or the eternity of becoming, eliminating whatever offers resistance. It brings out, or better yet, it creates the active, the pure active, and pure affirmation. The overman has no other meaning; it is what the Will to Power and the Eternal Return, Dionysos and Adriadne, produce together. This is why Nietzsche says the the Will to Power has nothing to do with wanting, coveting, or seeking, but only “giving”, “creating”.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rationality and Totality, Part VII

Here's an example of Orla saying pretty much the opposite of what he's said in recent posts,

“Before we get to that, let's look at your use of "affirmation". I'm probably being reductionistic here, but you seem to equate it with the old hippie slogan of "letting it all hang out" = basically anarchic. As long as it is creative, life-affirming, the free flow of being, it overrides any notion of "selection", meaning any ethical hierarchy. Or it is an affirming YES to life versus the Adorno-like NAY-saying (to the absolutism of the values of Enlightenment and to the general debasement of humanistic value by present day hedonistic materialism.)”

In recent posts, Orla himself has seemed to equate affirmation with the old hippie slogan of "letting it all hang out."

I am not concerning myself with "catching" Orla in a contradiction, (though it would be dishonest to say the "discrepancy" did not present itself to me, first pass, as a contradiction.) I also do not believe the problem is Orla failing to express himself properly, or being forgetful, or contentious for the sake of being contentious,(so that no matter which way I turn, he disagrees.) Least of all do I believe Orla is equivocal or dishonest.

I DO NOT explain this competition of sides in Orla in psychoanalytical terms, as the play of the unconscious, tricking him.

Rationality and Totality, Part VI

A brief note about my “method” is in order here. I am not creating, nor do I wish to create, “stable entities.” I am explicitly not defining either rationality or totality—to say what rationality and totality are-- nor do I intend to do so. I am also not attempting to find common features they share. As far as I know, to do either would be to create “stable entities,” but if there are other ways to create “stable entities” out of rationality or totality, or if there are better ways to avoid creating “stable entities” out of rationality or totality, I would be very happy to become better educated of how so. I think, in trying not to specify what I understand by rationality or totality I run a risk of going on and on, prattling on and on, in a way which will ultimately be inconsistent and incoherent, and this risk seems greater than the risk of somehow making a stable entity which squelches emergent becomings; perhaps time will tell. At worst, this is an experiment from which I might learn something about what a conceptual “stable entity” might be and where the risks lie regarding them.

I would very much appreciate hearing other interpretations of “stable entities” and their dangers, especially because I think the peculiar fears associating with “stable entities” is very germane to understanding the peculiar fears associated with totality. The fear seems to be that stable entities and totality block emerging creativity. I would really like to set aside these fears at some point so we could examine exactly how a conceptual “stable entity” would block creativity…Whether it is an attribute of the conceptual stable entity which is at play in this, or whether the conceptual stable entity is standing in for something else, some other process, which is the real agent in blocking creativity. By the way, I don’t pooh-pooh the fear of blocks and bindings of creativity—-this happens and is an evisceration of life.

I also have not been trying to specify relationships between rationality and totality which would be causal or in any other way law-like. In other words, I haven’t been trying to say anything about valid or verifiable relationships between them. I’m interested in very tenuous, diaphanous, almost imaginary relationships—stuff we’d reflexively call “psychological” or emotional—meaning by that relationships which aren’t to be considered real or important. Relationships about which we might very well find it possible to say, “But that just isn’t true!” Or, “That is incorrect!” And if and when someone chose to say that about the relationships I am trying to look at, I might agree. I wouldn’t defend them on the basis of their truth or correctness.

There’s a risk in this also. I want the imaginary relationships I point out to be real. The risk is that the imaginary relationships I point out will be imaginary only. The only thing I want to say about that right now is that the counter-risk, the risk in the other direction, is that there are all these teaming real imaginary relationships which are active and even highly effective which never get accounted for in our "truthiness" conceptualization of reality, and we thus get run by them. What I am almost obsessed with is when intellectuals say (especially in the realm of the political), “That is not true!” with the expectation that saying this is going to dispel whatever it is which is not true. (Whatever is ideologically supported by this untruth.) The intellectual might be completely correct to declare something untrue. It matters to point out untruth. It just CANNOT be effective if in the background there are these teaming imaginary but real relationships, agencies, which also exert forces, hold things in place, etc. There is an exact counterpart to this (hopefully illustrative) in individual psychology. I know some behavior is harmful for me, and I threaten myself with thoughts of the future harm to get myself to stop. The threatening knowledge of harm isn’t effective. I do it anyway.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rationality and Totality, Part V

I want to renew my efforts to explore the connections between rationality and totality,(which I see primarily in terms of a large number of poorly-delineated fears and misgivings,) after the spur to the sides given me by Orla’s recent posting, From Square Boxes to Fluid Plasmas.

This post provides me with a pretty good framework from which to say what I want to say about these poorly-delineated fears and misgivings I mentioned above. I think it’s all there in this simple formula for a passage from square boxes to fluid plasmas.

What are the square boxes?

They are isolated, frozen, and stopped enclosures, procrustean beds, the location of stable entities, the places where the “squares” reside, what the “squares” have made of life and the world, and of themselves. The square boxes are the lives of the living dead, of the undead, who have “fixed” the world so very, very well that they have murdered it.

The square boxes are the life world of the squares,which isn't a very nice world at all. The square boxes ARE squares,who aren’t very nice people at all. They may not even be people if by people we mean living, loving, warm, curious, and thinking. Squares are people who exist by isolating, freezing, and stopping. They are bureaucrats and faceless masses, those who consume without producing, those who are incapable of creativity, insectoidal hordes munching along and impinging upon freedom and beauty, almost through malice, but mainly through blunt nothingoidal stupidity.

Which people these are—who these people are—we are all much too passive-aggressive to get specific about that one. But one thing is for sure: we fear this condition of “squareness” and we also hate it. We would adamantly wish to avoid becoming squares. We would adamantly wish to limit the impact of squares on reality.

Some other poor schmuck going about his business as best he can…If we can call him a square, we can presto-chango assure ourselves we are adamantly not a square. Take this,

“When Yusef is battling the concepts of totality and rationality he is trying to stop, isolate, and freeze the flow of emerging streams of creativity.”


Whatever it was I thought I was doing, what I was actually doing was trying to stop, isolate and freeze the flow of emerging streams of creativity! The whole notion I had of trying to find or make connections was delusional on my part— what I was really trying to do, in my own, shmucky little way, was stop up and prevent and dam emerging streams of creativity. I was, in other words, being a square. Whether I was damming anything or not, in the context of this blog, this is quite a damning condemnation of me.

In my own anti-square square reaction to Orla, I note what a hackneyed cliché is this “square box” metaphor Orla has used and how profoundly uncreative it is to dredge up this tired image. But setting all of that aside, this fear of the square and this profound desire to overcome "the square" into a purely metaphorical and complementary opposite is at the heart of the opposing of being to becoming in a great deal of contemporary conversation; if to employ these metaphors is a gesture of impotence and shallowness, as I think it is, I hope we can confront that honestly and pop the hood and begin work on the engines which make this metaphorical opposition powerful.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Spaces: What's In "Between" and "Beyond"?

The forceful concept of "betweens" brought to mind the writings of Homi Bhabha, the Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities at the University of Chicago. Allow me to quote from the introduction to The Location of Culture (1994),

It is the trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond. At the century's edge, we are less exercised by annihilation - the death of the author - or epiphany - the birth of the 'subject'. Our existence today is marked by a tenebrous sense of survival, living on the borderlines of the 'present', for which there seems to be no proper name other than the current and controversial shiftiness of the prefix 'post': postmodernism, postcolonialism, postfeminism....

The 'beyond' is neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past.... Beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; but in the fin de siècle, we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion. For there is a sense of disorientation, a disturbance of direction, in the 'beyond': an exploratory, restless movement caught so well in the French rendition of the words au-delà - here and there, on all sides, fort/da, hither and thither, back and forth.'

The move away from the singularities of 'class' or 'gender' as primary conceptual and organizational categories, has resulted in an awareness of the subject positions - of race, gender, generation, institutional location, geopolitical locale, sexual orientation - that inhabit any claim to identity in the modern world. What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences.

These 'in-between' spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood - singular or communal - that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.
It is in the emergence of the interstices - the overlap and displacement of domains of difference - that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultural value are negotiated. How are subjects formed 'in-between', or in excess of, the sum of the I parts' of difference (usually intoned as race/class/gender, etc.)? How do strategies of representation or empowerment come to be formulated in the competing claims of communities where, despite shared histories of deprivation and discrimination, the exchange of values, meanings and priorities may not always be collaborative and dialogical, but may be profoundly antagonistic, conflictual and even incommensurable?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

From Square Boxes To Fluid Plasmas

Let’s not forget that philosophy is, literally speaking, the “love of wisdom” = the production of desire through intellectual activity. What a liberating concept! And yet the way we have been taught to think is through the linearity of the history of philosophy. A series of boxes on a string. Here is the traditional view:

Western philosophy has a long history, conventionally divided into four large eras - the Ancient, Medieval, Modern and Contemporary. The Ancient era runs through the fall of Rome and includes the Greek philosophers such as Plato. The Medieval period runs until roughly the late 1400s and the Renaissance. The "Modern" is a word with more varied use, which includes everything from Post-Medieval through the specific period up to the 20th century. Contemporary philosophy encompasses the philosophical developments of the 20th century up to the present day.

But this is counter-intuitive to the continuous surge of life, to the vibrating intensities of existence, to the chaosmos of living and thinking, to the plasma of perpetual becomings.

When Yusef is battling the concepts of totality and rationality he is trying to stop, isolate, and freeze the flow of emerging streams of creativity. This is understandable and true of all of us in our attempts to create patterns and stable entities. We also know that this desire is rarely qualitative, multidimensional, and inclusive. It is not “a draft, a wind, a day, an hour, a stream, a place, a battle, an illness” (Deleuze: Negotiations, 1995). But it should be.

How do we philosophize as the wind?

We have to approach thinking as the extensive genesis of intensities = the creation of forces, the ongoing repetition of the new, the desiring body without organs.

This involves the painful exercise of the concept of unlearning.

Only when we deconstruct do we create, and only when we discard boxes do we flow with the plasma of becoming.

Blood streams triumphantly through the organism in the spasms of orgasm just as the wind of thinking does.

Dopamine in the body is the cocaine of thinking in the wind.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Rationality and Totality, Part IV

I am drawing up loose skeins of connection between two very loosely (though apparently fundamental,) fabricated concepts: rationality and totality. (Am I overcoming either one in proceeding thusly?) Nothing I say about either the connections or the concepts themselves needs to be considered compelling or “valid”—I think what happens is that in the bright light of day (the enlightened day?) a lot of what we think about rationality or totality or the connections between them begins to dissolve into irreality…But this is entirely to the point rather than a defect of this exercise. The light of the enlightenment is not necessarily real, and what’s left by the historical Enlightenment to lurk in the shadows, dark and vague and anxious, may be “where it’s at” in terms of contacting reality—in other words, in terms of reading desire.

I want to escape from the demand that what I can draw out of the mud puddles of my mind be those things which are clear ( that very peculiar and very important optical metaphor of “clarity”) or can be made clear, while at the same time I want to pay the utmost attention to all of those aquatic organisms swimming in the seas of my head which appear to be perfectly clear without any clarification at all. (And of course this latter objective is extremely difficult to accomplish. Strangely, the former objective seems so easily accomplished it doesn’t even appear to be a worthy objective…This also is entirely to the point.)

Speaking of rationality, entire generations of men ( and it’s men for the most part—I’m not disguising the nature of the history or continuing it by putting it this way) find it unproblematical and clear what it is to which they refer—their problem is to obtain rationality more than to say what it is they wish to attain…But because of difficulties they confront in getting what they wish to attain, they are forced to confront what it is they wish, what they want…Something similar appears to be true now when we speak of totality—we think we know what it is which we wish to avoid—that part appears unproblematical to us, I think—whether we actually can avoid these traps and fly bottles is the most difficult thing, especially because, under these circumstances in which we now try to avoid traps and fly bottles, the very nature of trying to avoid traps and fly bottles may very well be a trap and a fly bottle.