Friday, February 20, 2009

The Totalization of Shadows, Part XV

Though we have on some occasions in passing used or mentioned someone else’s definitions of Totalization, we have avoided relying on them, nor have we made any serious attempt to modify these definitions for our own purpose, or to make our own formal or strict definition, starting from scratch, so to speak. Though I refuse to uncritically accept any of them, I prefer to proceed by honoring all of the various meanings and connotations (not definitions) of Totalization which float around like sea urchins or jelly fish in the mare populi in which I swim. Can this be productive, let alone more productive?

For assured productivty, we could start out with a very simple schema (or definition?): there is an S and an O, defined in a variety of ways, in a variety of relationships, which together form, in some place and time, a Totality, a historical formation. This simple arrangement does offer an enormous number of conceptual possibilities to toy around with and rearrange—there is nothing static about the scheme, on the face of it. The scheme is also not “negative”…It has yielded a great deal of “positive” results.

And yet we suspect there is something oppressive, blocking, and freezing in it somewhere.(In other words, something unproductive, not conducive to creativity or movement.) What? It isn't everything about the schema,obviously--it is productive of some things in some ways. Totalization isn't totally unproductive. What prevents us from being content with the range of both theory and practice this scheme gives us?(The Totalization of theory and practice our own historical formation provides. It is undoubtedly more rich than at any other time in history.*) What could be insufficient with this range? Surely we are far from exhausting all it offers.(Also, I want to be clear on this point: I don't take seriously the idea of the schema being faulty because it offers only some specific range...I don't believe in the existence of an "all-range".) Rather than working within it, why would we ever think it more valuable to contest it? Working within it, a great deal is realizable. Working against it, failure and waste are the most likely outcomes. Working against it, we may not even be "working". (We might be feverish in psychosis.) Are there truly good reasons for dissatisfaction with “a great deal”?

*I might have to qualify this by saying 30-40 years ago it was more rich than at any other time in history--my opinion is we've suffered a serious and global retrenchment, retreat in the meantime. However, this doesn't change the problem I want to focus on, though from a polemical point of view it complicates it because a lot of people see my approach to the problem as part of the cause of the retrenchment, rather than as a way out.


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