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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooops, Yusef, just as I was posting in the comment section to the previous post, you are blogging a new post that I have just read.

Please understand that I was not trying to create any personal impression of you being "square" or anything like that.

On the contrary I was attempting to describe a general tendency we ALL have (also in the context of the history of philosophy, see my comment) of building our own little systems (I guess my own "square box" is trying, most often in vain, to escape from it :-))

That's why I find your concept of the "betweens" so fascinating. I hope we together can explore this further.

All the best,


1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On the contrary I was attempting to describe a general tendency we ALL have (also in the context of the history of philosophy, see my comment) of building our own little systems (I guess my own "square box" is trying, most often in vain, to escape from it :-))"

We disagree then that there is such a general tendency. You did attribute to me that I was trying to stop up and prevent emerging flows of creativity. And you do make it seem as if you think the only alternative to this tendency to prevent emerging flows of creativity is to put on a smiley face and celebrate some sort of bland and vague vitality.


1:44 PM  
Blogger Christoffer said...

Well said Yusef.

Orla is clearly positioned at the extreme one end of this dualistic square - becoming distinction. A position that becomes self limiting at best.

The engines that sustains, motivates, reproduces, shifts or destroys this distinction is named differance. The gesture is named deconstruction.

10:59 AM  

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